Author Topic: 1906 San Francisco earthquake  (Read 65 times)

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Offline brandm24

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1906 San Francisco earthquake
« on: July 31, 2020, 01:28:17 PM »
On April 18, 1906 a 290 mile stretch of the San Andreas fault ruptured and caused massive devastation on the northern California coast. The epicenter was near San Francisco and was later determined to be a 7.9 magnitude event. San Francisco was badly damaged by the quake and the ensuing fires caused by it. City blocks were completely leveled or horribly damaged. The estimates put the death toll at 3,000 or perhaps even more.

As in many of these disasters, some seemingly impossible events take place. The heroism of the city's population, police and fire services was enormous and saved many peoples lives for their grit and determination. Later, the people of the city rebuilt their neighborhoods and lives by displaying the same determination and persistence.

Other more mundane events also played out during the disaster. Not of great importance in the overall scheme of things, but interesting nevertheless. One such event was the saving of the US Mint building. Though located in an area that saw massive devastation, the building survived both the quake and the resulting fires relatively unscathed. It was a combination of foresight and the heroic effort of mint employees who stayed on in an effort to save the building.

Years before, the structure had been fortified after a similar, though more minor tremor had struck the city. This and the fire fighting efforts of mint employees and officers preserved the building. Minor repairs were later made as well as some modifications in the event that future disasters might strike the city.

This is a souvenir medal issued as a tribute to the city and it's residents. I don't know when it was issued or by whom but it tells the story of the terrible event. The hole was applied after it was struck. By the condition of it, I'd say it was worn on a chain or fob for a very long time. By a survivor of the earthquake maybe?

Bruce

      Medal images courtesy of eBay ID (stevehayden)
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Offline brandm24

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Re: 1906 San Francisco earthquake
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2020, 02:47:02 PM »
At the time of the earthquake the San Francisco Mint was producing three denominations of US coins. They included the dime, quarter and half dollar, all with the Barber design.

The attached image shows another view of the mint building after the disaster and an example of a half dollar minter there.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: 1906 San Francisco earthquake
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2020, 04:02:20 PM »
Quite. Without wanting to diminish anything of the above and more information here, there is a need, in the light of what is happening today, to recall that one reaction, both official and among individuals, was to see the event as an opportunity to get rid of the Chinese in San Francisco. The "relocation" attempts failed and the discrimination turned against itself when the Chinese discovered that population records were destroyed, so they could reunite families and bring in relatives in spite of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Page Act.

When I was in San Francisco's Chinatown, I was told that the Chinese were the first to start reconstruction, modernisation and re-opening shops, paving the way for neighbouring parts of the city and kickstarting the recovery. San Francisco has a Chinese name: 旧金山, (Past) Gold Mountain, which refers to one of the principal reason many Chinese came to the city: the gold rush, the other main reason being railroad construction.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: 1906 San Francisco earthquake
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2020, 06:45:50 PM »
You're right, the Chinese were instrumental in building and then rebuilding the city after the devastating earthquake. They also supplied a large percentage of the workforce needed to build the western portion of the trans-continental railroad that opened up the western part of the country to expansion.

It's interesting that they called the city Gold Mountain in the past. It fits with the "Golden Gate"...golden gateway to the west. Many places in the city have been named with that in mind. The Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park are two. What a breathtaking view the park offers to those who take the time to see it.

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: 1906 San Francisco earthquake
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2020, 01:15:35 PM »
I found a few more details about the token, but still not who made it and for what purpose.

It's considered to be a so-called-dollar and is is listed as HK-341. It's 36 mm and gilt brass. Also the mint building was nicknamed  the "Old Granite Lady".

Bruce
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