101751 | UNITED STATES. Chicago, Illinois. Automobile gilt bronze Award Medal.

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    101751 |   UNITED STATES. Chicago, Illinois. Automobile gilt bronze Award Medal. Issued and engraved on 25 September 1900 to the Chicago Motor Vehicle Co. for first prize (63mm, 172.62 g, 12h). By Hyman, Berg & Co.

     

    Seminude male, holding garlanded wreath and palm frond, standing facing on winged "horseless carriage" among the clouds; on banner around, FIRST INTERNATIONAL AUTOMOBILE EXHIBITION AND RACE MEET, CHICAGO / Female personification of Chicago—the "I Will" woman—standing facing, with hand on hip; garlanded laurel branch curved to left; PRESENTED / BY / THE CHICAGO / INTER OCEAN / AT THE / FIRST INTERNATIONAL / AUTOMOBILE / EXHIBITION / AND / RACE MEET / CHICAGO, 1900 / "1ST PRIZE / AWARDED TO / CHICAGO MOTOR / VEHICLE CO / LTD." Edge: "FOR BRAKE, SEATING 6 PASSs RUN 3 MILES. TIME 10 M. 31 Sec." HYMAN, BERG & CO.

     

    Choice Mint State. Vibrant yellow-bronze allure, with a somewhat two-toned, swirled nature. A very rare and interesting medal from the dawn of the automotive era. Very thick rims, with edge dimensions measuring 8mm.

     

    As the world moved into the era of "horseless carriages," exhibitions on the latest in advancements became a must for both engineer and aficionado alike. The first such international exhibition in Chicago was held in September 1900 and under the auspices of the Chicago Inter-Ocean, a local newspaper. Numerous events were held to test the various entries, all of which were meant to test ingenuity and skill, with the hope of discovering the very best in technology. The event for which this award was presented occurred on 25 September 1900, the last day of the expo (which had already been extended two days on account of inclement weather). According to the recap from the following day's issue of the Inter-Ocean, this prize was not without controversy:

     

    "The next event was a three-mile race for motor vehicles seating four or more grown people. The Chicago Motor Vehicle company entered in this event a motor vehicle with a nine-passenger break body. The St. Louis Motor Carriage company entered a regulation carriage, built to seat but two people. To this was attached an additional seat by straps. The judges, not aware that the seat was simply attached, and not part of the vehicle, allowed the wagon to show. The conditions being unequal as to weight and seating capacity, the St. Louis machine won. A formal protest has been entered by the Chicago Motor Vehicle company, and the judges are to reconsider the contest."

     

    The paper later goes on to clarify the verdict:

     

    "Fourth Event—Three-mile race for motor vehicles carrying four people. Won by Chicago Motor Vehicle company. Time, 10:31. St. Louis Motor Carriage company vehicle entered, but disqualified because rig was not according to specifications."

     

    The reverse of this medal features a then recently adapted female personification for the city of Chicago, the "I Will" woman—so-called because of the "I Will" on her breastplate. Featuring a resolute stance and a phoenix rising from the ashes upon her head, she was designed by Charles Holloway in 1892 and meant to present the city's resilience following the Great Fire. Holloway won a contest supported by the Inter-Ocean and judged, at least in part, by the great illustrator Thomas Nast. Interestingly enough, Holloway was an artist well known to Chicagoans, though he was a graduate of the St. Louis Art School, furthering the Chicago/St. Louis connection for this unique award medal.