So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To commemorate 300th anniversary of "first permanent settlement of...North America by English speaking people" and "to illustrate history, inculcate patriotism and show the value of education."

Organization: Early as 1900, Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities passed resolution "to celebrate in some befitting manner." Conceived originally as "great historical and educational Exposition...with no hope or purpose of vying with industrial fairs of past." Feature was to be International Naval, Marine and Military Celebration so that "all navies of all Nations" could honor "the hardy mariners" who established Colony.

Exposition Company chartered March 1902, public subscription to stock. State granted $300,000; Congress was asked for $3,000,000. Latter created U.S. Ter-Centennial Commission (Secretaries of Treasury, Navy and War) but originally voted only $250,000. After two years and much controversy, Federal grant increased to $700,000 plus later "loan" of $1,000,000.

Site: Sewell's Point, Norfolk County, 7 miles north of Norfolk --about 340 acres with frontage of 5,000 ft. on Hampton Roads; now U.S. Naval Base. (Jamestown Island, itself, is situated 30 miles up James River to northwest.)

Dates, Attendance: April 26 to Nov. 30, 1907. Paid attendance about 1,400,000 vs. 5,000,000 anticipated.

Participants: There was sharp distinction between "International Naval...Celebration" and Exposition. Latter not designated by U.S. as World's Fair, President Roosevelt's proclamation March, 1905, limiting foreign invitations to armies and navies. European war fleets appeared in numerous demonstrations; highlighted by giant naval parade in Hampton Roads May 13, 300th anniversary of Jamestown Landing. On grounds each day were over 4,000 soldiers of National Guard units, U.S. Army and Marine detachments, etc.

As to exposition itself, 25 states participated, 21 and 6 Latin American countries erecting own buildings. Industrial exhibits finally reached total of almost 2,000 but with fewer than 30 foreign ones. Historical societies from everywhere most active and permanent memorial dedicated on Jamestown Island. Federal displays included Mint Exhibit.

Comment: While President Roosevelt "officially opened," exposition never recovered from lack of formal U.S. recognition as World's Fair and from tardy decision to solicit industrial and foreign exhibits. Chronic financial difficulties resulted in crippling construction delays; there was tragedy as to incompleteness on opening day involving grounds, buildings, piers and exhibits. Hostile national press developed with brutal impact on attendance. However, for final 2 1/2 months, exposition was marvel of beauty--a "Colonial Acropolis." Outstanding were Raleigh Square (main plaza) and Government Piers, latter "the most beautiful single feature."

Medals: Official Medals below were struck in Mint Exhibit on grounds.


Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. Female Indian bust (Pocahontas) l. in center circle; outside around, Ter-Centennial • of • the • Settlement • of • Jamestown; below • 1607--1907 • beaded border.
Rev. Sailing ships in center circle; outside around, Landing of Expedition Under Captn John Smith; below • May 13. 1607.; beaded border.

HK-344 Silver. 34mm.
HK-345 Silver-plated Bronze.
HK-346 Bronze.
HK-347 Gilt.


Photos courtesy of W. David Perkins

Obv. Battleship, on ribbon above Virginia--all within center circle; outside, above Jamestown Exposition; below 1907
Rev. Sailing ship, on ribbon above Virginia--all within center circle; outside, above Jamestown Exposition; below 1607

HK-348 Silver-plated. 37mm.

Photos courtesy of John Raymond

Obv. Exposition grounds and buildings, above l. 16, above r. 07, below April 26 to Dec. 1--all within center circle; outside above, Jamestown Exposition; below • Norfolk, Va. 1907 •; beaded border.
Rev. At top 1607, sailing ships below; across, on band, Ter-Centennial; Battleship below; in small letters below, U. S. Battleship Virginia; below 1907; beaded border.

HK-349 Brass, reeded edge. 36mm.

NOTE: At least four obverse die varieties and four reverse die varieties known. Number of die marriages unknown.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. Edifices surrounding tree-lined path; above around View From The Pier / Jamestown; below Exposition / 1907; beaded border.
Rev. View of fair. Above around; Bird's Eye View Jamestown, below, Exposition / 1607 - 1907; beaded border.

HK-349a Brass, reeded edge. 33mm.

Photos courtesy of John Raymond

Obv. Intricate scene of woman intervening in an execution; Above, microscopic Pocahontas Saving the Life of / Capt. John Smith--all within center beaded circle; outside above, Jamestown Exposition; below • Norfolk, Va. 1907 •; beaded border.
Rev. Same as reverse of No. 359 [Ter-Centennial].

HK-349b Brass, reeded edge. 33mm.

HK-340 to HK-343a