Croton Aqueduct Medal

1842 Croton Aqueduct Completion Medals

Begun in 1837 and completed in 1842, the Croton Reservoir and Aqueduct and it's distribution system in the city of New York was the largest engineering project in this country at the time. Robert Lovett Sr. was commisioned to produce medals to be awarded at the celebration held on October 14th, 1842. Engraved silver medals were struck to be presented to the 17 Alderman as well as other dignitaries. How many of these were produced I have yet to determine. Bronze and white metal versions were also produced and again I do not have any information on the number struck. All are fairly scarce.
The medals are approximately 51mm in diameter with the bronze version being thicker than the silver and white metal. One face shows a cutaway of a portion of the aqueduct with statistics about the size and flow rate. The other face depicts the Murray Hill Distributing Reservoir with a city scene in the background and facts about the capacity of the system below. This Distributing Reservoir sat on the site of what is now the New York City Public Library. They are beautiful examples of the engraver's art.
Silver, Awarded to "General Hopkins, Grand Marshall", 51mm


Receipt for payment on water bill, May 19, 1869

Bronze, 51.2mm
(ex. John j. Ford Jr. Collection) 


July 22, 1842 letter to 'Brother Henry'

A line in this letter tells of a fire and reads "The abundant
supply of the Maid of Croton Water prevented a large fire, which 
in old times could not have been prevented for want of water"

Silver, Awarded to "George P. Morris, Author of the Croton Ode", 51mm
     George P. Morris was also presented with a silver medal from the Baltimore female College, engraved by Robert Lovett Jr.. How many people can claim to have medals from both father and son? See the Baltimore Female College page to see this medal.

Silver, awarded to "John Stewart, Ald. 14th Ward, 1842" in 
original case, 51.1mm

  
Currently I know of the existence of 7 silver engraved examples. One example, to "Stephen Allen / 1st Prest Comrs." in the original case, is in the collection of the New York Historical Society. Two others, to "R.F. Carmane/Ald. 12th Ward" and "J.B. or I.B. Scoles 1st Ald., 14th Ward" are in private numismatic collections. Another example awarded to "H.W. Bonnell/Ald 13th Ward" is still in the possession of a great, great grandaughter. If anyone knows
of any others please contact me.

          
    
                                          
These silk ribbons celebrating the opening of the Croton Aqueduct have the same text but were issued by different entities. The example on the top was issued by a merchant at No. 1 Courtland Street, the same address on John D. Lovett's Store Cards.
Bronze Medal in original case of issue
(image courtesy of Robert Kornfeld)
White Metal, 51.2mm

White Metal, wreath reverse, 51mm
IMAGE NEEDED

A Presidential Coin and Antique Auction in 1995 contained a white metal version of this medal with a reverse described as "a narrow wreath around the border with a large empty center indicating it was meant for later engraving. The use of which this medal was intended is open to speculation - its rarity is not!". Was this struck by Robert Sr. or did someone at a later date remove the reverse design and strike this new one? Anyone with information on this please contact me.
Silver - 96.78%, traces of copper and zinc, uninscribed, 51mm
      Is this a trial strike of some sort, possible a poorly struck piece that was never inscribed? The flaws seem to be part of the planchett.


 
Letter to Chief Engineer Jervis dated 1839


Cast copy of Croton Aqueduct Completion Medal, 51mm

Bronzed white metal, 51mm
    I have only seen two examples of these bronzed pieces and both were heavily scratched.
"Pay List for Cartage of Pipes"  1847

Unknown composition, 51.2mm
I suspect this is a bronzed white metal piece with most of the bronzing worn off. The weight and thickness are close to that of the white metal version and there is some bronze color still visible on parts of the medal.

Unknown composition, 50.6mm
                        
            This piece was described as a bronzed white metal example but I doubt it. The weight is just over 64 grams compared to 48 for the white metal example. Thickness and diameter are slightly less. The edge shows a light colored metal beneath the bronze color and the surfaces appear grainy. Possible a cast lead piece that has been bronzed? The other cast copy above is thicker and weighs only 56 grams.