Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 18, 2016, pg. 6
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Festival of the Forks, we are reminded that the Festival once issued its own Trade Dollars from 1978 to 1986. These were struck in bronze, 1 ½" diameter by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut. They were designed by William M. Wheaton. The 1978 and 1979 versions were of the $1 denomination, while those struck in later years were of the $2 denomination.
These were circulated by participating merchants in Albion where they could be purchased at face value. Each bore an expiration date. Regular bronze mintages were around 1,000 pieces each year, with exceptions. The 1983 one is the scarcest with only 700 minted; the 1979 one had the most with 2,089 minted. Collectors could also order .999 silver, or nickel, or pewter, or gold or silver gold-plated versions during specific various years. A listing of what was minted year-by-year was published in this column, September 7, 1997 edition.
The design depicts the Forks of the Kalamazoo River on the obverse, with the then-current Festival date and year. The reverse gives the value of the trade token. With the economic downturn of the early 1980s and with interest waning along with increased production costs, the decision was made to discontinue the trade dollars. The trade dollars are not rare, but have rarely sold in the after-numismatic market or on E-bay. They do however represent a legitimate collectible of Festival history. From our Historical Notebook this week we present an obverse design, and the two denomination reverses. Do you have a complete set of the bronze tokens in your Festival collection?
1980 Festival Trade Dollar
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