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HK-1 Erie Canal 1826 Completion

A great deal of excellent information is available about HK-1, including a wonderful article in the Numismatist in Jan 2005. To summarize, the construction of the Erie Canal (from Buffalo, NY across the state to the Hudson River [and hence via river to New York City]) significantly reduced the costs of transporting goods from America's "interior" [Buffalo, via the Great Lakes, to the upper midwest]) to/from New York City. The prohibitive costs associated with moving goods over the Appalachian or Allegheny Mountains could be avoided. The skeptics were proved wrong as this canal tolls paid the construction costs by the end of first decade of use. To commemorate this construction feat, pewter, silver proof, and gold medals were made. The medals were designed by Archibald Robertson, dies engraved by Charles C. Wright, actual dies made by William Williams, and medals struck by Maltby Pedetreau (see attached info from the July 1912 Numismatist and the "Early American Die-Sinkers" book by Richard Kenney, also the author of the first "So Called Dollars" article in the 1950s). Note that CC Wright was one of the more famous early american engravers. The medal depicts Pan and Neptune with a cornucopia on the obverse and an eagle on a globe, the NY coat of arms, and a canal view on the reverse. The white metal and pewter medals are not terribly difficult to obtain, but higher grade versions are quite expensive. Several ceremonial pewter medals were presented in lathe-turned boxes made from the wood carried from Lake Erie to New York City on the Seneca Chief Boat (see images). The medals w/ boxes are quite rare, with auction prices increasing ($660 in 1996, $1200 in 1998, $1700 in 2012) over the years. The box lid is lined with satin with a printed vignette similar to the medals's obverse. In the box is a paper describing its origin. The acid in the wood almost always has resulted in environmental damage to the enclosed medal, but many collectors accept/disregard this to own both box and medal together. I presume the environmental damage from the wood is why high grade HK-1 medals are rare and expensive. For more information, see the referenced material and the website:

In my opinion, someone gold-painted or plated a WM HK-1. The Box is the only thing i'd be after, but since I have one, I am not intending to bid. This certainly could be a collectable piece if someone wants to have a gilded piece that is a "counterfeit" gold. I certainly think collecting SCDs that are "counterfeit" or attempting to be so is a reasonable collecting area in SCD land. I think, with the box, the max i'd bid (if I were to bid) would be $2000.

OK-so with all the dodging and weaving and shucking and jiving-what is the consensus? Is the HK-1 currently being auctioned on ebay with a $1200 bid gold or not? I always assumed the gold ones being basically presentation pieces to Washington, Adams and Lafayette and authorized by congress were solid gold. This one is obviously plated. Does that mean that they are all plated or that this one has been after market plated and conterfeit? Has anyone checked or asked which picture is correct. The dark picture makess it definitely without a doubt look like a copper or bronze piece. The light pictures make it look like a gilded possibly gold piece. One is obviously enhanced. Which one? Is it photo shopped? Seller is very vague on making any claims. Jeff, you've seen at least two of the gold pieces. You should be in a position to have an opinion. Bill H. you are a bidder you've obviously made a decision. Bob, waiting possibly to see what shakes out. As this is a repeat condition of Portola of earlier really should be asking Jeff what does Cec say? She probably has the best idea. I have no intention of bidding further on this piece.

Well bidding has now crossed the $1000 mark, I guess some people have a different opinion. The box itself is not rare to justify $1000.

This to me appears to be a piece that was gilded somewhere down the road. It's looks like a gilded white metal piece to me. I can't imagine that such a poorly gilded piece would have been given out, especially because we don't see any nicely gilded pieces. I almost think at some point someone tried to make a fake gold piece by gilding a WM piece. This is a well known medal and I think gilded pieces would be known by now. If it was a test piece it would not have been issued with a box.

The description says that the SCD has been gilded and not gold. My question about this same SCD is when was it gilded. Did it originally come that way or did someone down the line gild it. My other question is whether the piece is real. When someone adds something like gilding, the possibility of someone trying to hide a fake goes up.

what did this finally sell for?

I unfortunately missed this Gold-plated HK 1 when it was sold on eBay in 2014. I don't know what it sold for. I do however have some comments regarding it. I have seen several Gold-Plated HK 1's with loops attached. Back in that era it was popular to wear medals as souvenirs. Oftentimes Gold-Plated ones with loops were sold alongside non-looped varieties. My personal opinion, particularly if they are looped and gold-plated, is that they are probably contemporary to that time period.