So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To celebrate 140th anniversary of discovery of San Francisco Bay by Portola party led by Sgt. Jose Francisco de Ortega; to celebrate "rising of a city from its ashes," resultant from 1906 earthquake and fire.

Organization: Festival Committee formed locally representing commercial, fraternal and civic organizations; modest grants by city, county and state but no Congressional appropriation. Federal government, however, did approve participation by U.S. Navy.

Site, Dates, Attendance: City-wide celebration; Oct. 19-24, 1909; out-of-town visitors approximated 1,000,000.

Comment: President Taft proposed toast "around the world" to San Francisco; invited foreign countries to send navies. Festival was 6-day carnival; streets "festooned with incandescent lamps"; at one intersection "10,000 globes...fashioned into...shape of...bell." Many Spanish-speaking countries were represented officially, along with warships of others. Celebration opened with reenactment of arrival through Golden Gate of Don Gaspar de Portola, first Spanish governor of California; passed in review before naval vessels; followed by daily parades, band concerts, masquerade balls--streets were "one vast ballroom"--championship athletic events and historical pageant. Latter covered entire period from Portola to present day. Invitations to public to inspect warships attracted thousands.

Medal: This was Official Medal; designer and number struck unknown. See also Part I, Portola Festival--1913.

Photos courtesy of Fred Holabird

Obv. In center, standing bear facing l.; above, on ribbon S. F. Portola Cal.; above Official Souvenir; below bear Festival / Oct. 19-23, 1909; around, both l. and r. borders, chain of buds or leaves.
Rev. Standing male figure facing l. rear into sunset across bay; at r. foot, microscopic Pat / Apld / for; above, around Discovery of Bay of San Francisco / First Governor of California.; below figure Jan. 9, 1769. / By Gaspar De Portola.

HK-389 Bronze. 38mm.
HK-389a Brass.
HK-389b Silver-plated Bronze.

HK-386 to HK-388b