Pilgrims Celebrated on Coins, Money, and Medals

By Stacy B. C. Wood, Jr.

For over 150 years the Mayflower Pilgrims have been numismatically celebrated. Presented here are a few examples of this honor.

The US Five Dollar Federal Reserve Note of 1914

A five dollar Federal Reserve Note was issued in 1914 that carried a scene featuring the landing of the Pilgrims. It appears that the landing of Columbus is also shown on the same side of the bill, at left. The bill measured 7 1/2" by 3 1/8".

The US Five Dollar Federal Reserve Note of 1914

The Plymouth Bank's $1, $2, $5, and $10 Bills

Bills of the Plymouth Bank

Four Bills of the Plymouth Bank issued about 1847. A vote of the Board of Directors of the Bank, January 19, 1846, reads, "that the cashier be authorized to procure a reduced copy of Sargent's painting of the 'Landing of the Pilgrims' to be engraved on steel and the necessary plates for four bills."

The Plymouth Banks 1847 $20 Bill

The Tercentenary Half Dollar

To commemorate the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, a special half-dollar was authorized by the U.S. Congress on May 12, 1920. Boston sculptor Cryus E. Dallin executed the designs. The obverse has a portrait of Governor William Bradford as seen from the left. The reverse has a port side stern quarter view of the Mayflower under full sail. The 1920 issue has no date on the obverse. The 1921 run contains the date as well as 1620-1920 on the reverse. Of 152,112 coins struck, it was reported that only about 24,000 were sold and the remaining coins were sent back to the mint for melting down.

1920 Commemorative Half Dollar Front

1920 Commemorative Half Dollar Reverse

The Construction of Mayflower II Commemorative Medal of 1956

In 1956 a medal was struck in England to commemorate the completion of construction of Mayflower II . It is of bronze and measures 1 1/2" in diameter and weighs one ounce. The obverse has a relief representation of the ship and the reverse carries the shields of the United States and England in the upper half and raised lettering below reading in raised lettering "Commemorating the Building of Mayflower II, 1956." It came in a dark blue simulated leather jewelers box with green velvet base and white silk-lined cover.

Mayflower II Commemorative Medal Front

Mayflower II Commemorative Medal Reverse


Two GSMD Commemorative Medals for 1970

1970 Mayflower II Medals

The General Society had a run of two medals struck in 1970 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in New England. They were produced in bronze, silver and platinum.

One medal on the obverse shows the departure from the Old World of the Mayflower under full sail. The seal of King James I of England is on the reverse. The second medal represented the arrival and depicted the classic figure of a Pilgrim on the obverse and the seal of Plymouth Colony on the reverse. The silver and platinum medals were numbered. All were sold as pairs in presentation cases. Four sets were struck in gold for presentation to prominent Society members.

The GSMD Commemorative Medals for 1995

For the 375th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, the General Society recreated the design of the two medals struck for the 350th described above, except that a gold medal replaced the platinum one.

The above information gleaned from Centennial History – General Society of Mayflower Descendants – 1897-1997 compiled and edited by Duane A. Cline, GSMD, 1999, with additions by Joseph Wood and Stacy B. C. Wood Jr., SMDPA.