A Massive 5 Inch Shell token

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by johnmilton, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I was surfing the net looking for a red enamel Al Smith donkey pin when I happened upon this site. For those who would like to know what I want, it is this pin in red instead of blue or white. I have the other two, but not the red one. Democrat Al Smith ran for President against Herbert Hoover in 1928.

    Al Smithg Blue & White Donkies.jpg

    They didn’t have the donkey token, but they did have a few other interesting things. One of them was this massive, five inch in diameter, suspended shell medal. This William McKinley piece was issued during the 1896 presidential campaign. It was not something for your “average Joe” to wear. It was for state or district chairman or perhaps candidate to wear in political parades.

    I doubt that McKinley ever wore one; it was not his style to be so flashy. He conducted a "front porch campaign" when the people came to hear him speak while William Jennings Bryan traveled the nation by rail and gave a dozen or speaches a day.

    1896 Large Mckin Proc Badge O.jpg

    What I liked about this piece was that it was not terribly bent up. This piece is made of embossed brass, and it is quite fragile. The very first one I say was perfect. I didn’t realize at the time how unusual that was. After that I saw perhaps three or for more, and they were all beat up.

    The reverse is even more interesting. It covers the major issues between the candidates during the race, which was, of course, headed by the free silver program that Bryan pushed.

    1896 Large Mckin Proc Badge R.jpg

    You will note that James Murdock, Jr. from Cincinnati, Ohio manufactured this piece. Murdock is a familiar name to U.S. token collectors. His father, James Senior, made Civil War tokens and the James, Junior, who lived from 1839 to 1902, continued in the business. He made tokens, badges and other novelties.

    One of the really interesting statements for me is near the bottom of the piece. “Reciprocity” refers to deals that McKinley proposed to make with foreign leaders on tariffs. Though out the 19th century, the Republicans and their Whig ancestors supported protective tariffs for American industry. Here McKinley is proposing to lower tariffs with other countries if they agree to do the same. I knew that McKinley made some of these deals toward the end of his presidency, but I didn't realize that it was part of his 1896 campaign.

    There are other aspects of this piece that we could discuss, but I will leave that to future posts, if there is any interest.
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  3. manny9655

    manny9655 Well-Known Member

    I was born and raised in Canton, OH and LOVE to see McKinley memorabilia! McKinley stuff is still very popular with people in my home town even though he died almost 120 years ago. I hate to ask how much this cost.
  4. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    These pieces sell for $125 to $135, but the trick is to find pieces that are not bent up too badly.

    McKinley was a pretty good president, but he was way overshadowed by Theodore Roosevelt as was more everyone else who was around him. As his daughter, Alice, said, Roosevelt had to upstage the corpse at a funeral and a bride at her wedding.

    Since you like McKinley, here are few other McKinley medals and tokens.

    McKinley Protect 96 O.jpg McKinley Protect 96 R.jpg

    McKinley 1900 Conv O.jpg McKinley 1900 Conv R.jpg

    1897 Ing Close O.jpg 1897 Ing Close R.jpg

    McKinley thanks to pats 96 O.jpg McKinley thanks to pats 96 R.jpg

    and here is a jugate piece with Theordore Roosevelt from the 1900 campaign

    McKiin & TR Medalet O.jpg McKiin & TR Medalet R.jpg

    I have some more medalets and a lot of buttons.
    Stevearino, Larry E, capthank and 2 others like this.
  5. manny9655

    manny9655 Well-Known Member

    Fantastic stuff! Thanks for posting! I grew up not far from his tomb. It's a stone's throw from the Pro Football Hall of Fame which is about 4 blocks from where I grew up. If you ever go to Canton, there is still a lot of McKinley related stuff there. A main street, businesses, etc. and the largest high school in town is named for his sister. Plus we have the National First Ladies Museum there which has a host of memorabilia, not only of Ida McKinley but all the other First Ladies too.
  6. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the list of attractions in Canton, Ohio. I saw all of them about four years ago.
    manny9655 likes this.
  7. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    Interesting piece, thanks for sharing it! Fascinating to look at some of the campaign issues from so long ago, and see what the major controversies were.

    Anyone got a link to a really good description of the William Jennings Bryan "free silver" issue? I've read about it many times before, but it might be useful for people less familiar with it - its a fascinating subject.
  8. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    From what I have read about Bryan, he was well-informed when he served two terms in Congress in the early 1890s. Then he got into presidential politics and made the "free silver" his main issue. It carried him to three presidential nominations, and made him enough of a force in the party to get Woodrow Wilson nominated in 1912 and even get a vice presidential nomination for his brother in 1924.

    When Bryan was asked about how his plans would actually work, he said that he didn't know and that he'd have to study that later. This is why is his critics said that Bryan's brain pan was like the Platt River, a mile wide and a foot deep. But Bryan was really great at making stem winding speeches. His "Cross of Gold" speach at the 1896 Democratic Convention was the most successful political speach in U.S. history.

    Cross of Gold.jpg

    As for the free silver issue itself, it resonated strongly with two groups, silver mine owners (no surprise there) and farmers. Many farmers were up to their butts in debt and couldn’t pay it off. The solutions were higher crop prices and general inflation which would allow them to pay off their debts with cheaper dollars.

    There had long been a third party, called the Greenback Party, which advocated issuing paper money to inflate the economy. They were always on the ballot in the 1880s but never got anywhere. Their most famous candidate was Ben Butler, the Civil War general. Here is satirical note that pretty much summed up what would happen if their proposals were enacted. If you read the fine print, you will find it interesting.

    Greenback B.jpg Greenback F.jpg

    After the paper money idea didn’t get any results, silver became the next best thing. There was so much of it coming out of the mines in the western states that the economy could not use it all. The silver lobby got the U.S. Government to buy vast quantities of it and turn it into Morgan Dollars. That’s why these 100 year old coins are still cheap today, even in Mint State.

    The silver lobby wanted the “free coinage” of silver. That meant that the U.S. mint system would convert all of the silver that was brought to it into coins with no limits. Unlike the previous legislation where the government was obligated to buy a fixed amount every month, all of the controls would come off, and the mints would turn as much in silver coins as the silver owners could bring to them.

    Mills not Mints.jpg

    The “free coinage of silver” would result in a massive increase in the money supply which would result in price inflation for goods and services. The farmers would get more for their crops in inflated dollars, and pay their debts with those less valuable dollars.

    Needless to say, the banking industry did not like that idea. Neither did the eastern factory owners who were looking for the stability proved by the Gold Standard.

    Don't Own a Bank.jpg

    Bryan ran a remarkable campaign in 1896 and almost won. If the election had been held in October, he might very well have become President. He ran again in 1900 and did not do as well because the economy had improved. He did even worse in 1908. Even he admitted it. Here is a 1900 button that summed up the reasons why Bryan did not win.

    Do you smoke.jpg

    Here is a logo that was devised for the Bryan campaign in 1908. It symbolizes those who supported him the strongest.

    1908 Bryan & Corn insert.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2020
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