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California State Seal Medals


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The die-sinking firm of L. H. Moise was founded in 1893 and Moise purchased the older C.A. Klinker & Co. in 1897. Although they became the Moise-Klinker Co. in 1898, they produced pieces under their indivivdual names until 1904. Moise produced a series of so-called dollars and store cards with a common state seal obverse under the name Moise (differences exist in the dies across types and within the same type). A separate series with a different version of the state seal bears the Moise-Klinker signature. This collection is limited to the Moise signature series.

 

The first piece in the series in my opinion is from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition. I am calling the state seal design, Moise Type 1. The piece is also known with a single example of what I am calling the Moise Type 2 obverse. The Type 2 obverse was noted on a single specimen in the Weber Collection. Moise Type 2 appears on later Moise pieces as does Moise Type 1. I speculate that Moise Type 1 came first. (Note that the Type 1 and Type 2 Midwinter so-called dollars are made by two different manufacuters and should not be confused with the terminology I am using here.)

 

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The image from the Holabird-Kagin auction is no longer on line, but I've acquired a well worn example of the medal. Compare with the Moise Type 2 piece (the reverse die appears to be the same):

 

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Yet an nicer example recently acquired:

 

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L. H. Moise store card with the California State Seal Moise Type 2. Note the word Eureka is more widely spaced and the E is lower that would be expected based on the position of the other letters. In general, the die work appears to be less refined or cruder than Type 1. This piece is struck in aluminum.

 

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The Native Sons of the Golden West have issued a number of medals commemorating their annual meetings. At least two are Moise state seal medals. The piece pictured here is from the 1896 gathering in Stockton, California. The piece has a Moise Type 2 obverse and the die was filled or suffered some other sort of weakness on the right behind Minerva's back. Note that the stars along the rim are so soft they are actually missing at some points and the softness extends into the design along the rim. This particular medal is the plate medal for the second edition of Hibler and Kappen's So-Called Dollars. It may be the plate coin for the first edition as well as that piece appears to have the same weakness. I cannot be certain however since the carbon spots are not obvious in the first edition. I acquired this piece in the Weber auction and Weber contributed to the first volume, so it may be the same piece in both instances. Weber often noted the date and place of purchase on his coin envelopes, unfortunately he did not for this piece.

 

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I've acquired a second piece with a better obverse:

 

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The Truckee Ice Carnival so-called dollar is rare and popular. Although Hibler and Kappen listed the piece as ca 1872, the medal undoubtedly dates to the 1896 Ice Carnival promoted by E.F. McGlashan. An ice palace, a toboggan slide, a skating track, and sleigh rides to Donner Lake were constructed to attract people to Truckee in the winter. The railroads offered special family and group rates, not to mention some of the most spectacular scenery one could hope to see from a train into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The obverse is Moise Type 2. The medal is known as a gilt bronze piece. The one I acquired from the Weber collection is a heretofore unknown aluminum variety.

 

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The bronze version with Type 1 obverse added here for easier comparison:

 

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Another rare, unlisted Moise state seal medal is the 1897 souvenir for the Native Sons of the Golden West meeting in Santa Rosa. I've post it in a separate thread, but repeat it here as part of the series. I was attracted to the dancing bears and it was this piece that inspired me to build a collection of the Moise series. Note here that the obverse is again a Moise Type 1, more refined with a narrow Eureka.

 

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Beckert and Kieso Wine and Loquor dealers in Oakland, California. An interesting store card with 1902 (Merry Christmas) and 1903 (Happy New Year) dates. The obverse is a Moise Type 2.

 

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  • 2 months later...

The 1896 Fiesta in Los Angeles was one of the early events in southern California that ultimately led to the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. My example is far from the best known, but all are rare and unlisted in so-called dollar references. (Type 2 obverse)

 

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and a souvenir badge:

 

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  • 1 month later...

The 1895 Santa Cruz Venetian Water Carnival was the first event following the Midwinter Fair to use the Moise State Seal obverse (the Type 1 obverse). The medals are rare.

 

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And just to prove that when one item you are looking for turns up, other items will turn up, I acquired this badge a few days before I was offered the Santa Cruz medal. I was happy to get both.

 

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I acquired a bronze version of the Truckee Ice Carnival medal at the Santa Clara show, another unexpected find. Compare it to the aluminum version above (I'll edit that entry as well and insert this same image). The aluminum version has the Type 2 obverse (with the wide EUREKA if you will) as does the bronze specimen pictured in Hibler & Kappen. The piece pictured here as the Type 1 obverse. The Truckee medal is rare and hard to find. It is amazing that copies were struck using both dies when it is doubtful that very many were struck at all. I'm working on a point by point study of the dies used to strike these medals and it appears there are only two dies used suggesting that not very many medals were struck in the entire series. Maybe there were two hubs used to make multiple dies, but if that were the case and both hubs remained in use from 1894 to 1903/4, why produce two hubs?

 

The medal:

 

961812.jpg

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To continue the theme, when good things come along, they come in multiple quantities no matter how rare. Not long after acquiring the VF 1895 Santa Cruz Water Carnival unlisted so-called dollar and badge, I acquired an Unc example of the 1895 medal and an example of the 1896 badge. Many of the higher grade (i.e. Unc) examples of these medals include similar blotchy carbon spots. I don't know what it is about the planchets that promoted the growth of such spots on so many medals, but they are there on every example I have had the opportunity to inspect.

 

First, the medal:

 

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and the 1896 badge:

 

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Note that the generic Venetion theme from the 1895 badge has been continued, but a "natural bridge" from the western edge of town has been added to the central illustration.

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  • 1 month later...

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Okay, its not one of the Moise series, but it is a California state seal medal celebrating the 40th anniversary of California's Admission to the Union. The piece is not signed, so I don't know who made it.

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Great medals. I think the staining is interesting. I wonder if it's something to do with the way the metal was prepared or remnants of a wash that might have been used.

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Great medals. I think the staining is interesting. I wonder if it's something to do with the way the metal was prepared or remnants of a wash that might have been used.

 

The staining is tarnish. It is a white metal piece. I don't know if that means more or less lead in the mixture or if it is an indication of a poor mixture. Interestingly, many of the Moise bronze pieces show the ugly black staining (the last Santa Cruz piece above is a good example). I suspect this is a product of the bronze mix? One more piece to making them an interesting collecting topic.

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  • 2 months later...

Another 1890 40th Anniversary medal with the tattered remains of a ribbon. Yet another variation on the state seal and again, unsigned. Struck in white metal.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm working on an article about the Moise state seal medals with so-called dollar dealer, Jeff Shevlin. While dong an internet scan for a reference, I spotted a piece unknown to me that had just been listed in a summer catalog from Fred Holabird (Holabird-Kagin Americana). Fred's prices are at a premium, but he has quality material. He believes the piece he was listing came from Moise's original reference collection that was broken up and sold in the 1940s and 1950s. He believes that because the piece he was lisitng is choice BU, unusual for early pieces such as this. To make a long story shorter, I bought the piece and freed it from its plastic tomb.

 

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It is struck in aluminum. The John Douglas Co. is a national company with headquarters in Cincinnati. The life preserver says, FEAR NOT LEAKS WHILE WITH US. They still exist and in the early 1900s they had offices in the major cities around the US. The were in San Francisco in the 1890s, so I was curious as to the actual date of the piece (Fred said 1900-1920). Because of its excellent preservation, I saw right away that the state seal had been struck from a heavily polished die. That got me to thinking, could I sequence the die progression for the series based on the die polish. Yes, I could and I did. Basically it told me that the souvenir medals came first and when that series faded, the one die was used to strike store cards, starting with Moise's own store card first. I won't go into all my thinking here as that will go into the article we are writing, but the results can be seen in this sequence:

 

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Select the large version of the image if you want to study the sequence for yourself. Think die polish and the shallowest detail disappears while the higher relief details remain relatively unchanged. Look at the second piece in the sequnce and the last for a quick comparison.

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That's a very nice series of medals. There's quite a difference in the details on the pieces. The dies must have been used and polished quite a bit.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The last basic type in the series. I have a few varieties I want to acquire, but otherwise I've completed the series. Now to upgrade as I can.

 

Cloverdale Citrus Fair, 1897.

H&K 639

 

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The Moise medals are easy, they are signed. Looking for clues as to who produced unsigned medals can be a chore. One method is to match letter punches between an unsigned medal and a medal made by a known manufacturer. Or, sometimes you get lucky.

 

My latest composite using the NSGW badge pictured above. I've cleaned up the badge somewhat so the heavy toning doesn't obscure the design.

 

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A larger image.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I'm continuing to expand the early state seal as a design collection beyond the Moise pieces. My article on the Moise pieces (co-authored with Jeff Shevlin) is tentatively scheduled for the December 2010 issue of the Numismatist. Plenty of time to join the ANA if you are not already a member!

 

Enough about that and on to the latest state seal medal, the medal for the 20th Annual Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic held in San Francisco in August 1886.

 

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The medal is struck in white metal, 38 mm.

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  • 1 year later...

After 1906, the Moise-Klinkner Co. designed a new state seal die, not as finely done as the original. The die was used primarily for store cards, but I love this piece I recently acquired, a Native Sons of the Golden West 1910 Admissions Day badge. Note the detail on the badge compared to the image on the postcard. The postcard and full badge image are pictured in a one-to-one size relationship (when the postcard is printed actual size, the badge is actual size). I've included the enlarged images to show the detail.

 

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