So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To celebrate 100th anniversary of Statehood; to "advertise and develop" Tennessee's resources..."to attract business and increase population."

Organization: Centennial Exposition Co. chartered July 1894, public subscription to $300,000 stock. City granted $100,000; county and state $50,000 each; Congress $100,000.

Site, Dates, Attendance: About 180 acres in Centennial Park; still city park. Held May 1-Oct. 30, 1897; attendance over 1,600,000, perhaps half paid.

Participants: 18 states and territories, Canada and 15 foreign countries; a "few" erecting own buildings. Industrial exhibits numbered "several thousand"; Federal displays included Mint Exhibit.

Comment: Opening originally planned for June 1, 1896, exact Statehood anniversary but deferment necessary. Exposition emphasized state's leading industries of agriculture, lumber and mining. Electric lighting, then a novelty, used lavishly.


Official medal struck in Mint exhibit on grounds.

Photos courtesy of Heritage Galleries (

Obv. Tennessee / Centennial / Exposition / Nashville / 1897
Rev. Edifice; above, around United States Mint; below edifice Philadelphia

HK-274 Brass. 33mm.


Research fails to establish origin of this medal. It obviously was an early issue as reverse lettering anticipates June 1, 1896 exposition opening which was deferred, as above noted.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. Male bust facing l.; to l. of bust, Andrew; to r. Jackson--all within closed center wreath; above wreath, around are 13 stars; below wreath Old Hickory; beaded border.
Rev. State Seal in center circle; outside, around * Centennial of the Admission of Tennessee in to the Union, (just above State Seal) of States; below State Seal, around Held at Nashville June 1. 1896.; beaded border.

HK-275 Bronze. 35mm.
HK-275a White Metal.

HK-272 to HK-273