Coin Guide

1936 Lynchburg Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

1936 Lynchburg Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

The year 1936 was the high water mark for United States commemorative coins, both in terms of their speculative popularity and in the number of different types issued. Some marked events of national significance, while others were of purely local or regional interest, coins which were authorized primarily as the result of some senator’s or […]

1920 Maine Centennial Half Dollar

1920 Maine Centennial Half Dollar

“As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” This old political adage refers to Maine voters’ nearly perfect record in predicting the outcome of national elections, which was due at least partly to a peculiar feature unique to that state. Until 1957, the voters of Maine went to the polls in September, rather than November, as […]

1934 Maryland Tercentenary Half Dollar

1934 Maryland Tercentenary Half Dollar

After the dry spell of 1929-33, in which no new commemorative coin types were issued by the United States Mint, the Maryland half dollar was at the vanguard in 1934. Though it wasn’t the first new issue authorized (that honor going to the Texas half dollar), it was the first one coined and distributed. As […]

1921 Missouri Centennial Half Dollar

1921 Missouri Centennial Half Dollar

Although the legendary folk-hero and “Wilderness Trail” blazer Daniel Boone is often connected with Kentucky, it was present-day Missouri that he called home for the last quarter-century of his life. By the time he died at the age of 86 in 1820, Missouri had come a long way from the untamed part of Spanish America […]

1923-S Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollar

1923-S Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollar

The commemorative coinage of the United States is replete with issues celebrating everything from the mundane to the monumental. Often, many events commemorated have been relatively insignificant or of a very limited local nature, and were of little interest to anyone other than the coin-hungry collecting community, who, for a time, were eager to buy […]

1938 New Rochelle Half Dollar

1938 New Rochelle Half Dollar

The 1938 New Rochelle half dollar presents one of those curious aspects so peculiar to United States commemoratives in that it bears no less than three dates, yet none of them is the actual date of coinage! To maximize its marketing potential, the sponsors of this issue had it minted in 1937, extending the logical […]

1936 Norfolk Bicentennial Half Dollar

1936 Norfolk Bicentennial Half Dollar

In recent years, complaints that Congress is too careless in authorizing commemorative coin issues are frequently heard. It’s been said that too many events and causes of only limited national importance have been honored and funded through the sale of such coins. Obviously, Congress has a knack for repeating its mistakes, since the same complaints […]

1926-39 Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar

1926-39 Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar

For at least a decade before the California gold rush of 1849, there was a growing migration of settlers to the West. Most of these pioneers were bound for the rich farmland of the Willamette Valley in the Oregon territory and followed a route which stretched over 2,000 miles from Independence, Missouri to Fort Vancouver, […]

1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition Half Dollar

1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition Half Dollar

Today, more than eighty years after the Panama Canal was completed, it remains one of the engineering marvels of the modern age. It took ten years and 375 million dollars to complete, and when the S.S. Ancon sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean on August 15, 1914, there was cause for great celebration. […]

1920-21 Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar

1920-21 Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar

Commemorative coins were still something of a novelty in 1920 when Congress authorized the coining of half dollars to celebrate the three-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims. Only eight commemorative coin programs had gone before. Some of these included multiple denominations, while a few even offered two different dates of the same design. […]

1936 Rhode Island Tercentenary Half Dollar

1936 Rhode Island Tercentenary Half Dollar

Though America’s smallest state, Rhode Island nevertheless managed to obtain a commemorative coin of its own in 1936. This type marked the 300th anniversary of the founding of Providence, now the state’s capital, yet no mention of this city may be found on the coin! The prime mover behind the founding of Providence was Roger […]

1937 Raonoke Colony Half Dollar

1937 Raonoke Colony Half Dollar

The story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island is a sobering reminder of how risky a journey to the New World was in the 16th Century. It’s a romantic tale, but one tinged with sadness at the lives lost. Though it pertained to a specific geographical location, the commemorative half dollar issued to recall […]

1936 Arkansas-Robinson Half Dollar

1936 Arkansas-Robinson Half Dollar

The 100th anniversary of Arkansas’ statehood called for a number of celebrations, the grandest of which was scheduled for 1936 at the state capital of Little Rock. Noting the success of other states in funding such events through the sale of commemorative coins, a similar plan was devised by a state-appointed group calling itself the […]

1935-36 California-Pacific Exposition ‘San Diego’ Half Dollar

1935-36 California-Pacific Exposition ‘San Diego’ Half Dollar

Popularly known as the San Diego half dollar, this issue commemorates not that city but the exposition held there during the years 1935 and 1936. Easily one of the most attractive of American commemorative coins, its appealing design makes up in part for the shameless manner in which it was marketed by the issuing committee. […]

1926 American Independence Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

1926 American Independence Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

By 1926, the frenzied Roaring Twenties was in a full-throated roar. God was in His heaven, Calvin Coolidge was in the White House, and all seemed well with the world. Personal income was on the rise, new consumer goods were pouring into the marketplace, and Americans had been given a painless new way to pay […]

1935 Old Spanish Trail Memorial Half Dollar

1935 Old Spanish Trail Memorial Half Dollar

By the mid-1930s, U.S. commemorative coins were nothing new: in fact, the proliferation of issues was beginning to be viewed with disdain by many collectors. In light of the blatant and unbridled commercialism and controversy associated with many of the earlier issues, even Congress started to look negatively upon the commemorative coinage program. Unfortunately, the […]

1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

One of the more common U. S. commemorative coins, the Stone Mountain half dollar was a by-product of a much larger undertaking—the carving of monumental figures of Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis into the side of a sheer cliff. These heroes of the Southern Confederacy (only Lee and Jackson appear on […]

1934-38 Texas Centennial Half Dollar

1934-38 Texas Centennial Half Dollar

“Remember the Alamo!” was the cry that spurred Texans on to ultimately defeat Mexico’s army and claim their independence as a republic. The tragic showdown at this humble mission yard in San Antonio became emblematic of the struggle for freedom and self-determination. Nearly a century later, the first in a series of coins celebrating this […]

1927 Vermont/Battle of Bennington Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

1927 Vermont/Battle of Bennington Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

To tourists, the state of Vermont is known primarily for its rich maple syrup and great wintertime skiing. To urban Northeasterners it is the source for many of their dairy products. To numismatists, however, Vermont is famed for its two great contributions to American coinage, its charming copper cents of 1785-88, so rich in varieties […]

1951-54 Washington & Carver Half Dollar

1951-54 Washington & Carver Half Dollar

Some of the most notorious of United States commemorative coin programs began with the best of intentions, and that appears to have been the case with the series of half dollar coins honoring Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. Produced annually from 1951 through 1954 and sold mostly in three-coin sets representing each of […]

1936 Wisconsin Centennial Half Dollar

1936 Wisconsin Centennial Half Dollar

When collectors are asked to identify their favorite U.S. commemorative coins, the answers given frequently include titles such as Oregon Trail, Panama-Pacific, Gettysburg and California Jubilee. Rarely heard, if at all, is the name Wisconsin. Having neither an attractive design nor any unique features, to many collectors it seems just one of those coins needed […]

1936 York County Tercentenary Half Dollar

1936 York County Tercentenary Half Dollar

Among the numerous complaints voiced over the proliferation of commemorative coins during the 1930s, one of the most frequent was that these issues celebrated events of purely local significance. These themes were judged inappropriate for a United States coin, yet having the proper connections in Washington was often all that was needed to see one’s […]

1900 Lafayette Memorial Silver Dollar

1900 Lafayette Memorial Silver Dollar

The renowned 18th-century French nobleman, the Marquis de Lafayette, has occupied a special place in the hearts of Americans for over 200 years. Born in 1757 to wealth and privilege, at the age of twenty he willingly sacrificed all in support of the American revolutionary cause. Defying his family and the French authorities, in 1777 […]

1922 Grant Centennial Gold Dollar

1922 Grant Centennial Gold Dollar

If one commemorative coin is good, then two coins are twice as good—or so the reasoning goes with these often exploited issues. The Grant Memorial gold dollar is a good example of this principle at work. The backers of this issue noted the success of the Alabama and Missouri programs in selling the same coin […]

1904-05 Lewis & Clark Exposition Gold Dollar

1904-05 Lewis & Clark Exposition Gold Dollar

When President Thomas Jefferson asked Congress in January, 1803, to appropriate $2500 for an exploratory expedition into the Pacific Northwest, negotiations to purchase the Louisiana Territory had not yet begun. Not that Jefferson didn’t have plans afoot: His long-term fascination with the oft-advanced theory of a water route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific […]

1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition Gold Dollar

1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition Gold Dollar

When the United States formally took possession of the Louisiana Territory on December 20, 1803, effectively doubling the size of the country, Napoleon was busy in Europe trying to outwit the English and other Continental powers. Previously, “the little corporal” had envisioned a worldwide empire with French flags encircling the globe, but he had recently […]

1916-17 McKinley Memorial Gold Dollar

1916-17 McKinley Memorial Gold Dollar

Judging solely by the number of times his portrait has appeared on coins and currency, William McKinley is one of the most highly honored of our United States presidents. In this respect, he joins such distinguished figures as Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Although McKinley was a man of some accomplishment, his greatest recognition came as […]

1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition Gold Dollar

1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition Gold Dollar

The Panama Canal ranks among the greatest man-made marvels in the world—a 51-mile-long system of natural lakes, excavated channels and locks that slashes up to 8,000 nautical miles from voyages between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was viewed as such an accomplishment that Uncle Sam marked its opening with a gala world’s fair in […]

1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition Quarter Eagle

1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition Quarter Eagle

The Panama Canal, or “Big Ditch,” as it has often been called, was constructed with a blend of sheer ingenuity and painstaking attention to detail. It took ten years and many millions of dollars to construct the giant locks through Panama’s deadly jungles, but completion of the monumental project assured America’s stature as a world […]

1926 American Independence Sesquicentennial Quarter Eagle

1926 American Independence Sesquicentennial Quarter Eagle

Americans of the 1920s seemed so preoccupied with enjoying the present that celebrating the past was destined to take a back seat. That decade is best remembered for inventive and oftentimes silly fads that drew life from the nation’s new prosperity and the relaxing of Victorian morality. Even so, there were those who still recognized […]

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