1873 Elgin National Watch Co. helps with the Yellow fever epidemic

musicguy

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"In 1873 a Yellow fever epidemic claimed 2,000 in Memphis, a number which constituted at the
time the most yellow fever victims in an inland city. ...and over 5000 deaths
in 1878 too." Yellow Fever Epidemics - Tennessee Encyclopedia

"During the 1800's Memphis was a very swampy area and was well known as the filthiest and most foul smelling city on earth.
Open sewers contributed to the unpleasant odor and they provided breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Because it wasn't known
at the time that mosquitoes spread disease, nothing was done to improve the situation for almost
40 years." Yellow Fever - the plague of Memphis

In 1873 The Elgin National Watch company decided it wanted to help. They designed and
produced a promotional coin/token that they would sell for 10 cents a piece(they cost Elgin
50 cents a piece to make) and they would donate the entire amount collected to
Memphis, Tennessee and Shreveport, Louisiana to help with yellow fever.
They sold these coins at the 1873 Chicago Exposition. Take a few minutes and
read the articles below.

They are substantial coins and fairly thick.

20210305_103439.jpg 20210305_103342.jpg

20210305_105858.jpg


My friend Nathan had done some research on these Metals/Tokens and
provided me these vintage news articles.

October 13, 1873 edition of the Chicago Evening Post.
Chicago_Evening_Post_Mon__Oct_13__1873_sm.jpg

November 18, 1873 in the Public Ledger (Memphis, Tennessee)
Public_Ledger_Tue__Nov_18__1873_sm.jpg

The Inter-Ocean, October 28, 1873
The_Inter_Ocean_Tue__Oct_28__1873_sm.jpg





Rob
 
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PatH

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What an interesting story, Rob. Thank you for sharing it. I have one of these tokens that I've never taken out of the coin holder it came in. The front appears the same, but the revers doesn't appear to have the verbiage about the yellow fever. Have you or Nathan seen anything that indicates there were two versions?

Elgin 1873 token.jpeg
 

musicguy

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I have seen both versions and I "assume" they were both sold
for the same purpose to raise funds for yellow fever.

Rob
 

musicguy

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I also found it interesting that both of the coins say
Made by the National Elgin Watch Company not the Elgin National Watch Co.


Rob
 

Rick Hufnagel

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They seemed to try calling themselves National Elgin for a while right before the Name change to Elgin National Watch co.

Notice the date for the coins and newspaper clippings... And the name change was passed May 12th 1874.

The coins are not the only thing to read that way, btw! :);)
 
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musicguy

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I paid $11.95 for the Elgin yellow fever coin which is far less than any watch that I own but
these promotional items are just as fun to collect.


Rob
 

4thdimension

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Fantastic newspaper articles regarding these medals Rob! I have a fat book on tokens and medals that covers these which details the different versions. I will get it put and report back. Mine is the the yellow fever version too.-Cort

E2021F01-F618-4C4E-B630-7B8B71D7242B.jpeg D8353581-7BDB-46EB-955C-2DEFBC6E03C1.jpeg
 

musicguy

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Very nice!

Rob
 

4thdimension

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According to “The Standard Catalog of United States Tokens” by Russel Rulau (2nd Ed. 1997) there are four versions of the Chicago Fair token by Elgin. Pat’s version in post #2 has the watch hands set at 3:02 1/2. The Yellow Fever one posted by Rob and I has the hands at 3:38. These two are dated 1873. Two other versions are dated 1874 and 1875 and depict Father Time on the reverse. This portrayal of him is described as “Winged nude man with scythe and large Elgin watch striding right” lol.-Cort
 
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