Medal box made from wood carried on the Seneca Chief at the opening of the Erie Canal, New York, New York

The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 linked the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean in a continuous water route via the Hudson River to New York City. To salute the event, commemorative medals and medal boxes, badges, and tickets were distributed among local, state, and national officials, including current and former presidents of the United States. The Seneca Chief, the first boat to travel the length of the canal, was stocked with a supply of “curious woods” from “western forests.” Arriving in New York, the wood was finished into souvenir medal boxes by artisans Daniel Karr and Duncan Phyfe.
This box, made from curled maple, is believed to be the gift of historian Henry Adams of Harvard University, the great-grandson and grandson of medal recipients John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
Gift of Henry Adams, circa 1890
Object Name
date made
ca 1825
Physical Description
paper (labels (2) material)
wood (disjoint section material)
overall: 1/2 in x 2 in; 1.27 cm x 5.08 cm
associated place
United States: New York, New York
United States: New York, Erie Canal
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Government, Politics, and Reform
Souvenir Nation
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
Souvenir Nation
Souvenir Nation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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