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1891 U.S. Patent Office Centennial

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The 1891 celebration of the U.S. Patent Office was a year late. Participants and visitors received a pure aluminum medal as a souvenir. A number of different committees and distinguished guests had distinctive ribbons to identfy their role. The 47.4mm medal is available without a hole. I suspect the holded examples were suspended from one or more of the distinctive ribbons, although I have never seen one. The medal is typically described as white metal since 1891 is a bit early for the regular use of aluminum, but the centennial records specifically describe the medal as pure aluminum: "A handsome medal of pure aluminum bearing the seal of the patent office and the inscription * ' Patent Centennial Celebration, Washington, April 10, 1891," was one of the souvenirs of the celebration."

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A handsome medal of pure aluminum bearing the seal of the U.S. patent office (surrounded with the inscription, " Patent Office United States of America " and a five-point star) and reverse inscriptions of " Patent Centennial Celebration Washington, April 10, 1891 " and a second five-point star. The medal of pure aluminum was one of the souvenirs of the celebration of the beginning of the second century of the American Patent System. The celebration was held in at Washington, D.C. on the 8-10th of April, 1891. Source: Proceedings and Addresses: Celebration of the Beginning of the Second Century of the American Patent System at Washington City, D.C.

Copyright, 1892, by the Executive Committee of the Patent Centennial Celebration, George C. Maynard, Acting Chairman, J. Elfreth Watkins, Secretary, U.S. National Museum in Washington, D.C.


According to "American Machinist", Volume 14, 1891: Elaborate arrangements have been to celebrate the beginning of the second century of the American Patent System… All of the railroads the national capital have reduced their rates for the occasion, and a great crowd is expected. President Harrison will open and the celebration, and the literary exercises will be presided over by some of the most eminent inventors in the country. Twenty addresses upon the different phases of invention upon the different phases of invention will be delivered by men who are famous as masters of the subjects they will discuss. A national association of inventors and manufacturers of patented articles will be organized. There will be a grand reception at the Patent Office by the Secretary of the Interior and Commissioner Mitchell, at which it is expected Cyrus W. Field, Thomas A. Edison, George Westinghouse, George M. Pullman and others will assist. There will be a military parade, an excursion to Mount Vernon, a planked shad banquet at Marshall Hall near Mount Vernon; and the Navy Yard, the National Museum, the Patent Office and other interesting national establishments will be open to the visitors.


This is the first time in the history of the republic that the inventors have celebrated.


The committee in charge of the celebration announce that, in view of the limited capacity of the largest public hall in Washington, it has been found necessary that admission to the public meetings, at which addresses will be delivered by distinguished speakers, will be by ticket only. This rule will also hold for the reception to be given at the Patent Office, and for the excursion to Mount Vernon. Persons desiring to attend the meetings and participate in the reception and excursion, should make application at once to J. Elfreth Watkins, Secretary of the Executive Committee, 811 G street, N.W., Washington, D.C.


Keywords: metal token badge coin

USPTO top.jpg USPTO bottom.jpg

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I have both the copper and aluminum versions in my collection. I believe that my copper medal is pattern. The aluminum medal was distributed as souvenirs at the celebration.






Nice info and medals. It must be especially nice to have the aluminum medal and the copper pattern as well.

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