The following Q&A is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers
Q: I have a silver coin the same size as a U.S. silver dollar, and it has a portrait on the obverse along with the name HENDRIK HUDSON and the date 1609. The reverse shows a ship under full sail, with the lettering NIEUW AMSTERDAM MCMIX and 1 DAALER. From what country did this coin originate?
A: What you have is neither a coin nor foreign. It is a private medal produced and distributed by Thomas L. Elder, a New York City coin dealer and prolific medal marketer, struck and issued in the United States in 1909 (MCMIX) to commemorate the exploration of the Hudson River by Henry Hudson in 1609. In addition to being struck in silver, this dollar-size medal was also struck in aluminum and bronze, the latter being a rare variety; a variety the size of the U.S. gold dollar was also struck in gold, as well as silver, bronze, and aluminum. It is believed that fewer than 100 examples each were struck of the large and small silver pieces and the small bronze piece, while the aluminum versions of both sizes are the common pieces with probably more than 200 struck.
The portrait on the obverse is that of the English captain Henry Hudson, who was commissioned by the Dutch to find a passage to the Indies by way of the North Pole. The ship represented on the reverse is the Halve Maen (“Half Moon”). This particular medal falls within a quaint class of numismatic items known as “so-called dollars.” This category includes U.S. medals commemorating historical events of national and regional significance, along with some issues of a monetary nature issued from 1826 through 1948. In order to qualify, a piece must generally fall within the size range of 1.25 to 1.75 inches. The category was comprehensively cataloged in the book So-Called Dollars by Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen in 1963.