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Question about racing ROBT E LEE commemorative/medallion

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    Question about racing ROBT E LEE commemorative/medallion

    Someone emailed us asking about a bronze medallion commemorating the famous racing ROB'T E LEE. I suggested that they post the question here, but they asked me to do so. They wrote:

    "It was given to me by my grandmother some 12 years ago. How it managed to get to Scotland is beyond me. I just happen to come across it again recently.

    It is bronze about 1 inch in diameter and weighs about 1 ounce. I have attached 2 photos of it. Could you please tell me if it is of any historical value to collectors of this era . attached are 2 photos."

    Anyone know anything about this medallion? I presume it is a genuine commemorative item.
    Attached Files

    #2
    Hi, Steve & steamboating colleagues:
    The bronze medal pictured above featuring ROBERT E. LEE, 1870 and CAPTAIN CANNON is intriguing and its history with the link to Scotland is interesting. These things happen over time. I know nothing about coins/medals and, perhaps, a registered numismatist could provide information.

    The evening following the arrival of the ROB. E. LEE/NATCHEZ in St. Louis, July 5, 1870, a festive banquet was held for Capts. Leathers, Cannon, officers and distinguished citizens of the city and leading personalities of the river world at the time in the plush 'Southern Hotel.' No ladies were recorded as being in attendance--typical of the day. Most if not all of the remarks were preserved in the press of the day from that banquet and widely circulated. It was reported that a number of gifts were exchanged: flags, pictures and mention of a "gold medal" to Capt. Tom Leathers from his St. Louis friends that was to have been presented to him on June 22, 1870 but he did not stop the NATCHEZ that trip.

    If there is any source referencing the above bronze medal for Captain Cannon I've not been able to trace it down. If the above was ever first rendered in gold and then bronze for gifts and souvenirs in unknown to me. An interesting piece and well worth further research and appraisal. Other keen, well versed minds out there may know more.

    Cheers,
    R. Dale Flick

    Comment


      #3
      Robert e lee /captain cannon medalion.

      I have since taken the medalion to a reputible jeweler to see what kind of metal this medalion is acctually made of. He says it is solid silver base with a gold plating. exactly 1 ounce in weight.

      Comment


        #4
        Another Great Race Treasure...

        You never know what you'll find.... nor where. Many years ago, a small engraved metal brass rectangular plate was found nailed to the inside of the wooden enclosure around the toilet in my aunt's basement. Upon close examination it was found to contain information about that famous steamboat race between the LEE and the NATCHEZ of 1870. After several layers of white wash were removed, and the brass polished, did a small treasure and memento of the 'Great Steamboat Race" emerge. Whatever became of it, since, I know not... but I wish I did.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Steve Huffman View Post
          Someone emailed us asking about a bronze medallion commemorating the famous racing ROB'T E LEE. I suggested that they post the question here, but they asked me to do so. They wrote:

          "It was given to me by my grandmother some 12 years ago. How it managed to get to Scotland is beyond me. I just happen to come across it again recently.

          It is bronze about 1 inch in diameter and weighs about 1 ounce. I have attached 2 photos of it. Could you please tell me if it is of any historical value to collectors of this era . attached are 2 photos."

          Anyone know anything about this medallion? I presume it is a genuine commemorative item.
          The medalion has since been viewed by a jeweler, who said it consisted of a solid silver base with gold plating.

          Comment


            #6
            *RE: ROBT. E. LEE medallion*

            Hi, William & Steamboating colleagues:
            I looked again in my papers here RE: your ROBT. E. Lee medallion. THEN! I remembered and scrolled on to a Steamboats.org posting I made concerning this dated: Jan. 1, 2007 with what I'd researched. This may help you in case you didn't see the posting.

            The presentation of this--or a similar--gold medallion received wide coverage in the MISSOURI DEMOCRAT, July 6, 1870 following the effusive greetings and receptions of the boat following the great race. Again, I'm no expert in coins, medallions. If this gold medal was followed by other such 'strikings' in bronze for wider circulation a pressing question.

            One book you may wish to pull at your library or a used book store is FASTEST ON THE RIVER: The great steamboat race between the NATCHEZ and the ROBERT E. LEE,' by Manly Wade Wellman, Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1957. This volume of 234 Pgs. crammed with rich detail, some previously unknown. Good luck and keep us posted.

            R. Dale Flick
            Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

            Comment


              #7
              *RE: A 2nd gold medal for the NATCHEZ*

              Steamboating colleagues:
              There's something of a 'coda' to the story of the ROBT. E. LEE gold medallion I found digging, pawing through papers, letters, books here. Though losing to the ROBT. E. LEE, the civic powers and friends of Capt. Tom Leathers had a fine gold medal struck in his honor and that of the NATCHEZ. Leathers and crew nursed their wounds following the triumphant arrival in St. Louis and did not go ashore tending to their passengers and the several thousand dollars in freight. Two weeks later when the NATCHEZ again arrived in St. Louis, a group boarded for a presentation party. In those days river cities took great pride in 'their boats' as a friendly rivalry along with commercial interests at stake. Leathers avoided any sense of embarrasment graciously accepting the medal with the engraving of his boat on one side. The engraving read:

              'J.M. WHITE'S TIME, 3, 23, 9 [*This the fast WHITE of 1844.]

              NATCHEZ'S TIME, 3, 21, 58

              PRESENTED TO
              CAPT. T.P. LEATHERS
              by a few St. Louis Friends:
              June 22, 1870'

              "I will transmit it to my children as the most precious gift I could leave them," he replied. A reporter cross-examined him to the sticking point with, "Captain, are you prepared to admit the LEE is faster than the NATCHEZ?" Leathers bristled, "No, the LEE is not faster, by a long sight. No, sir."

              Other knowing steamboat minds pressed the issue that the LEE had taken many steps to ensure a fast run by removing extra weight, removing windows from the pilothouse, removing the wide forward bow cabin doors creating a kind of wind tunnel to cut resistance. The LEE had engines 40 X 10 ft. stroke with eight boilers and higher steam pressure.

              Veteran steamboat engineer John Gibbs, years later related to Capt. Ellis Mace and Commodore Fred Laidley what happened on the ROBT. E. LEE No. 2 when her one engine failed March, 1879 following a Mardi Gras trip. The engine on the LEE II from the racer LEE I was figured to have been strained/damaged by the earlier race; thus failing with disastrous results. Gibbs also opined that in 1870 both the LEE and NATCHEZ, with their big engines, were still "..underpowered and good thing they were as in those days they hung heavy grate bars on the safety valves." Who knows? What do I know?

              R. Dale Flick
              Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

              Comment


                #8
                The Great Race of the Lee and Natchez

                The large silver cup awarded to the winner of the Great Steamboat Race of 1870 is owned by the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, and was formerly on display in the elegant and now dismantled River Room, in a case containing a portion of a cabin arch from the Lee which Mrs. Loretta Howard presented to Ruth Ferris in the late 1950's. Ruth was visiting in Jeffersonville and carried the section of arch home to St. Louis on a Greyhound bus!

                Capt. Leathers not only lost the race, but suffered the further indignity of having his name engraved into the cup, and misspelled, as LEADERS!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Dale: No doubt in my mind that the NATCHEZ lost that race. There is also no doubt in my mind that it was NOT a race that necessarily determined the fastest boat. Cap'n Walnut

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Questions arise..

                    Other knowing steamboat minds pressed the issue that the LEE had taken many steps to ensure a fast run by removing extra weight, removing windows from the pilothouse, removing the wide forward bow cabin doors creating a kind of wind tunnel to cut resistance. The LEE had engines 40 X 10 ft. stroke with eight boilers and higher steam pressure.
                    I have to wonder after being around the DQ for so long and seeing her boilers and seeing the Natchez boilers. Brings me to wonder, how big was the Robert E Lee or were her boilers alot smaller than the ones on the Natchez and DQ? Or was she all boiler and no decks? Inquiring minds want to know...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Steve Huffman View Post
                      Someone emailed us asking about a bronze medallion commemorating the famous racing ROB'T E LEE. I suggested that they post the question here, but they asked me to do so. They wrote:

                      "It was given to me by my grandmother some 12 years ago. How it managed to get to Scotland is beyond me. I just happen to come across it again recently.

                      It is bronze about 1 inch in diameter and weighs about 1 ounce. I have attached 2 photos of it. Could you please tell me if it is of any historical value to collectors of this era . attached are 2 photos."

                      Anyone know anything about this medallion? I presume it is a genuine commemorative item.
                      I know this post is years old, but I just had to reply.

                      I cant tell you much about the medallion, but I can tell you its not unique.
                      I know this because I own an identical one, and bizarrely this was found metal detecting in North East England (it does seem odd how two of them have ended up in such close proximity).

                      Mine has a small loop at the top, as if it were intended to be worn as a pendant. The photos you've posted do show signs of a similar loop, maybe snapped off or cropped out of the image.

                      There was a group of dealers in my town around 18 years ago (similar kind of thing to antiques roadshow). I took the medallion to them, but they said it had no real value (I imagine they meant no real value to them!).

                      Its a fascinating piece and I too would love to know more about its origin.
                      Sadly after a series of house moves, I no longer know where my coin collection is, which is quite sad as the medallion was stored in the same boxes :(

                      Comment

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