Henry Clay 200th Anniversary Medal
Henry Clay was the longest serving Speaker of the House during the nineteenth century and he transformed the role of Speaker of the House into the powerful position it is today. The 200th anniversary presented an opportunity to raise awareness and honor Henry Clay’s accomplishments, and raise funds for the Henry Clay Foundation.
The Henry Clay Foundation which owns and operates Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate as a National Historic Landmark and Education Center, had multiple goals to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Henry Clay becoming Speaker of the House including:
- permanent commemoratives that honor the occasion
- three tiers of commemoratives for distinguished recipients, collectors and the public
- fundraising for the foundation
- raise awareness of Henry Clay’s accomplishments and perpetuate his memory
The Foundation recognized medals are a permanent commemorative that will be collected and passed down to future generations thus perpetuating his memory. Minting Henry Clay’s portrait into a medal is an honorable way to recognize his accomplishments, yet it would be critical that the medal be high quality and minted by a company that had created other high profile medals. After considering the options, the Foundation commissioned Northwest Territorial Mint to strike 50mm medals in three different materials and finishes including:
- 10 medals minted in 2.5 troy ounces of .999 pure silver, enhanced with 24-karat gold hand applied to details on both sides of the coin and serial numbered 1 to 10
- 90 medals minted in 2.5 troy ounces of .999 pure silver and serial numbered 11 to 100
- 250 piece mintage of bronze medals with antique finish
The obverse design of the Henry Clay 200th Anniversary Medal minted by Northwest Territorial Mint is inspired by an 1852 medal struck by the Philadelphia Mint to honor Clay and his accomplishments. According to Jeff Garrett, a member of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation and Lexington coin dealer, the reverse side includes a modern description of Clay’s achievements.
The first are a set of ten proof presentation medals composed of .999 pure silver, accented with 24-karat gold and serial numbered 1 to 10. Executive Director of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation Debra Korb notes that medal number 1 was retained for the Henry Clay Estate, Ashland, in Lexington, Kentucky. Medal number 2 was presented to current Speaker of the House John Boehner, while medals number 3 through 6 were awarded to former Speakers Nancy Pelosi, Dennis Hastert, Newt Gingrich, and Jim Wright. The four remaining medals are being held by the foundation for use at a later date.
The Henry Clay 200th Anniversary Medals were presented to the current and former Speakers of the House during a ceremony on the evening of June 24, 2011, at Lexington’s Transylvania University. Numismatic photographer Tom Mulvaney of RareCoinPhotos.com attended the event, and noted that “Everyone was happy with the medals and the meeting at Transylvania University.”
The pure silver and bronze limited edition medals were minted to be sold to collectors and the public with 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the collector’s versions directly benefitting the Henry Clay Estate and its memorial foundation. As a result, the Foundation achieved all of their goals for the 200th anniversary of Henry Clay becoming Speaker of the House.
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