Distribution: : 28,142
Weight: 12.5 grams
Designer: Charles Keck
Although the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the American Revolutionary War was still being fought until 1783. The Battle of Bennington was fought in Bennington, Vermont on August 16, 1777. Around 2,000 local militiamen soundly defeated around 1,400 troops from General Burgoyne’s army, led by Lieutenant Colonel Baum and Lieutenant Colonel Breymann. This decisive victory is considered so significant because the substantial weakening of Burgoyne’s forces contributed heavily to his surrender at Saratoga, a major turning point in the war.
This victory is celebrated every year in Vermont on August 16th, called Bennington Battle Day. In 1927, he Vermont Sesquicentennial Commission sought to mark the 150th anniversary of this battle by minting a commemorative coin. They requested only 40,000 coins, as they wanted them to be primarily sold to residents of Vermont.
The first models for the coin came from Sherry Fry, a sculptor. James Earle Fraser did not like the designs, so he suggested the Commission hire Charles Keck to do another design. This design featured a bust of Ira Allen with the inscription FOUNDER OF VERMONT. Allen was the leader of the Green Mountain Boys and an important political figure in early Vermont. The reverse shows a picture of a catamount, or mountain lion. This design was inspired by the Catamount Tavern, the site of many events of political important in Bennington, but is otherwise unrelated to the theme of the coin.
40,000 coins, as well as an additional 34 for assay, were struck at the Philadelphia Mint and sold at $1 apiece. It was expected that such a low mintage would sell out easily, but over 10,000 coins were returned to the Mint for melting. The coins were bought by the public, rather than numismatists, so many show signs of wear and cleaning. The coins were not fully struck to begin with, so many coins are tin the lower grades. However, the coins are fairly easy to find as high as MS65, but higher grades are almost impossible to find.