Thursday, June 9, 2011

The French Connection

The French Connection
In 1899 the Lafayette Memorial Commission sought to finance a statue of General Lafayette to be displayed at the Universal Exposition in Paris. The statue of General Lafayette on horseback was intended as a gift from America to honor the Frenchman who risked his life during the Revolutionary War to aid American colonist. During this time, the relationship between France and America was close. In 1886, France gave the United States the Statue of Liberty. The statue of General Lafayette, sculpted by Paul Wayland Bartlett was America's gift to France.
The 1900 Lafayette silver dollar is the first United States classic $1 commemorative coin and was struck to help defray the cost of completing the statue of General Lafayette. The Lafayette Monument Commission lobbied for a press run of 100,000 coins to help fund the statue. However, once the legislation was approved, only 50,000 coins were authorized to be struck. All of the coins were struck on December 14th, 1899 at the Philadelphia Mint. Since the coins were minted quickly, no care was given to preserving the surface quality of these coins. As a result, high grade Lafayette commemorative coins are very scare.
The obverse of the coin features the profiles of two very important men in American history, Washington and Lafayette. On the reverse of the Lafayette silver dollar was shown Bartlett's statue of Lafayette on horseback, a representation taken from an early model of the statue. The "1900" designation appearing on the Lafayette dollar is not the official date of the coin. The coins were actually struck in 1899 with the date 1900 signifying the year of the Paris Exposition. According to PCGS Coin Facts, The Lafayette Memorial Commission desired that the pieces be struck as early as possible in the year 1899, but bear the date 1900 to coincide with the date of the Paris Exposition. Mint practice did not permit the predating of a coin, so the issue was circumvented by placing on the reverse an inscription which read, "ERECTED BY THE YOUTH OF THE UNITED STATES IN HONOR OF GEN. LAFAYETTE / PARIS 1900"
This week we are offering four Gem MS65 Lafayette Silver Dollars. These coins are a great opportunity to purchase a unique piece of American history from over 110 years ago.

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