Coney Island Jockey Club medals by Tiffany & Co 1880/1883
1880 Coney Island Jockey Club R-NY-BK-14/1883 Coney Island Jockey Club R-NY-BK-17 by Tiffany & Co NGC MS64DPL
I'd like to share a pair of well matched medals I picked up recently from New York equestrian history. These beautiful pieces were struck by none other than Tiffany & Co.
I first saw these in Rulau's monumental book on exonumia, "Standard Catalog of United States Tokens,1700-1900." While not really "tokens" these highly decorative medalettes were used as members' passes as was stated on the reverse and were "Non Transferrable." A number would have been engraved inside the back oval, identifying members in the order in which they presumably joined the club. Issued medals obviously would be holed for suspension and attached to a ribbon:
Coney Island is best known for hot dogs and boardwalk games. There, an amusement park houses an iconic rollercoaster named "the Cyclone" since the 1920s. But years prior, it was home to a famous racetrack in Sheepshead Bay owned by the Coney Island Jockey Club. Formed in 1879 in Prospect Park, NY, its inaugural race at the Sheepshead Bay racetrack kicked off in June of 1880. Bankrolled by some of New York's wealthiest citizens, it satisfied the northeast's adulation for horse racing and gambling, which went together like bacon and eggs.
The Brooklyn Union announced the formation of the club on Aug 8, 1879:
The C.I.J.C. operated until federal regulations cracked down on gambling in 1908, which took the fun out of horseracing for the majority of people. It became a racetrack for automobiles until 1919, but was sold off soon after and redeveloped into building lots.
Astor cup at Sheepshead Bay cica 1915:
Nothing remains today of the old racetrack. Just photographs and stories of a bygone era.
I was happy to acquire these special pieces to study for a while. They are beautiful mementos of the past, artistically designed by America's most famous jewelry firm. Definitely too pretty to drill a hole through and wear on your sport's coat.
Thanks for reading!
Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
"Coin collecting for outcasts..."