Bridgeport Centennial Half Dollar

More than one writer has noted the appropriateness of depicting showman P. T. Barnum on a commemorative half dollar.  The saying “There’s a sucker born every minute” has been attributed to Barnum, and by the time that this issue was released (the fall of 1936), most coin collectors were beginning to feel like suckers for having […]
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California Diamond Jubilee Half Dollar

The discovery of gold in California in 1848 focused attention on that western territory as few other events ever could. The siren call of “riches for the taking” spread rapidly around the world. Tens of thousands caught “gold fever,” braving the rigors of voyages “around the Horn,” treks across Panama’s deadly jungles or the time-consuming […]
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Cincinnati Music Center Half Dollar

When the first silver commemorative coins were produced in the United States beginning in 1892, they were intended to celebrate specific historic events or to raise funds for the advancement of a specific commemorative cause.  This purity of purpose, however, would last less than thirty years. By 1920, the striking of commemorative coins was considered primarily […]
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Cleveland Centennial Half Dollar

This half dollar celebrates the one-hundredth anniversary of Cleveland, Ohio’s incorporation as a city, as well as the Great Lakes Exposition staged during 1936-37 in honor of Cleveland’s centennial.  In that respect, it’s a perfectly legitimate commemorative coin issue; some may argue, however, that the event was not really worthy of recognition on a United States […]
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Columbia Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

The Columbia, South Carolina half dollar occupies a unique place in the pageant of United States commemorative coins:  Although the first issue to be authorized during that prolific year of 1936, it was the last to be distributed! This caused a near riot among coin collectors, who were already being subjected to one outrage after another at […]
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Columbian Exposition Half Dollar

While Americans of the 21st Century squabble over whether Columbus was a hero or a cruel exploiter of indigenous people, such was not the case in 1892, on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage to the New World.  At that time, American flags waived nationwide as the anniversary day of October 12 approached.  Although Cristoforo Columbo was […]
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Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar

“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”  And it is the mighty Charter Oak that dominates the obverse of the Connecticut Tercentenary half dollar.  When an agent of the English Crown attempted to confiscate this colony’s royal charter in 1687, a cavity within the ancient landmark served as a secure hiding place for their treasured document, thus assuring […]
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Delaware Swedish Tercentenary Half Dollar

Question:  Which United States coin is dated 1936, was struck in 1937 and commemorates an anniversary in 1938? Answer:  The Gettysburg half dollar—well, yes and no.  While that’s true of the Gettysburg half too, the coin in question is the Delaware Swedish Tercentenary half dollar.  It’s one of the less remembered of our commemoratives, but it’s still an attractive and […]
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