1860 Abraham Lincoln "hartford Wide Awake" Presidential Campaign Token
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1860 Abraham Lincoln "hartford Wide Awake" Presidential Campaign Token:
Very rare, 1860 Abraham Lincoln / Wide Awakes White Metal Presidential Campaign Medalet / Token. This fascinating, 1860 Presidential campaign item measures approx. 1 1/8" in diameter (28mm). It was issued by the 1st Wide Awake "Club" which originated in Hartford, Connecticut. The front of the Token features an image of a figure wearing the parade uniform of the Wide-Awake Club, carrying a cane in one hand and a parade lantern in the other. An inscription above the figure reads "HARTFORD WIDE-AWAKES" and there are two stars to right and left of the text. The reverse features another marcher in Wide Awake cape and parade hat this time carrying a parade torch. Inscription above the figure reads "ORGANIZED / MARCH THIRD" and below the figure is the date "1860". This Medalet was commissioned by the Wide Awakes and circulated in New England as a pro-Lincoln campaign item. Wide Awake material is greatly prized today among collectors of Lincolniana.
While the 1860 "Wide-Awake Medal" (designated AL-1860-40) was struck in Silver, Copper, Brass and Silvered Bass, there were a small number (designated as AL-1860-39) struck in a soft, white metal that were issued before the later, more common examples. We believe that this is an example of the earlier issue. There is one perplexing issue however - this Medalet is impressed, below the figure on the obverse with what appears to be a later die stamp that reads "Becker". We have been unable to identify the source of this stamp and, although the Medalet exhibits wear and age patterns that are consistent with an 1860's manufacturing date, we would feel much more confident in identifying it as an original, 1860 issue if we could explain the "Becker" mark.
Please see the scans below and if you have any information about the "Becker" die stamp we would greatly appreciate hearing from you.
This very rare, 1860 Abraham Lincoln / Wide Awakes Presidential Campaign Token / Medalet is in very good condition - the strike is strong and crisp but there is wear to the high spots. The surface exhibits a warm, age appropriate patina and we believe it to be an original, period Abraham Lincoln Campaign Medalet. A very rare and very attractive, 1860 Abraham Lincoln / Wide Awakes Presidential Campaign Token / Medalet iand a fantastic addition to any collection!!!
The practice of marching by torchlight in support of a political cause or candidate has early precedent in American history, and was a popular form of political expression, as well as public entertainment, into the early 20th century. It was not until 1860, however, that torch-lit parades took on a more ritual aspect, carefully orchestrated with their own uniforms and insignia. The Wide Awakes of Hartford, Connecticut were the first of many marching clubs formed in support of the Republican Candidate for President in 1860 - Abraham Lincoln. "Wide Awake" Clubs soon formed around the country and the Hartford Club became the model for all subsequent parade and demonstration political brigades. During the 1860 presidential Election, each party took unusual pains to mobilize its followers in disciplined political clubs, but the most remarkable of these were the Lincoln "Rail Maulers" and "Wide Awakes,". Clad in gaudy uniforms the members of these quasi-military bands participated in all Republican demonstrations. The "Wide Awakes" in particular were well drilled and served as political police in escorting party speakers and in preserving order at public meetings. Party emulation made every political rally the occasion for carefully arranged parades through banner-bedecked streets, torchlight processions, elaborate floats and transparencies, blaring bands, and fireworks.
In 1860, the New York Herald estimated that there were over 400,000 drilled and uniformed Wide-awakes, nationwide. Historians have not found any examples of their engaging in violent or threatening behavior outside of enlistment in the Union military following the election of Lincoln and the start of the Civil War.
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