Fro T. writes: I wonder if you can tell me if the Philippine 1903S 50 Centavo (KM#167, San Francisco mint) coin was ever minted or circulated. Some numismatic catalogs have this coin as “very rare” (no mintage given) and some catalogs don’t list this coin at all. I am new to this hobby and I’d appreciate any information you can give me. Thank you and more power to you!
All 1903 Philippines 50 centavos were minted in Philadelphia including a proof of that year. There are no official records of any 1903 50 centavos struck at the San Francisco Mint. Because of this, the 1903-S is suspect. This is a good reason why it doesn’t appear in some catalogs.
There is a history of coins with added mint marks originating in the Philippines, especially on U.S. coins. For example, there are some 1894 Barber dimes with an added “S’ that were traced back to the Philippines (sometimes in the 1970’s). The Philippines has also been notorious for being the source of 1893-S Morgan Dollar fakes and fake 1804 dollars were rampant there during the time of the U.S. military presence.
The 1903-1906 coins had too high a silver content for their Philippine face value and many were melted as bullion. Of the mintage of six million 1903 half dollars, only a half million pieces escaped the melting pot and most of those were saved by collectors or possibly by others for the purpose of manufacturing an artificial rarity.