1921 50C Alabama MS67+
The 144-piece silver commemorative set includes all of the 50 different type coin commemoratives issued from 1892 through 1954, plus each date and mintmark of the multiple issues. For instance, there was only one York commemorative issued, but there were three Cincinnati commemoratives (1936-P, 1936-D, and 1936-S) and 13 different Texas commemoratives.
This popular series is filled with low-mintage coins, including the lowest mintage silver coins of the 20th century. Most commemoratives are mint state, as they are what is called NCLT, or non-circulating legal tender. Key issues of the series are the Hawaiian, Hudson, and Spanish Trail (low mintage type coins) and the Sesqui and Monroe (condition rarities), plus the Lafayette dollar among many others.
The 1921 Alabama half dollar (both types) is one of the rarer silver commemorative issues in Gem condition and has long been considered one of the key issues in the series. However, there is some controversy with the issue. First of all, the coin commemorates the 100th anniversary of Alabama statehood, but the anniversary was in 1919 and Alabama half dollars were struck in 1921. Second, the original mintages of both types of Alabamas are subject to some dispute.
The Alabama "2x2" has traditionally been considered to be a lower mintage and rarer coin than the "plain", i.e. no 2x2 Alabama variety. But the fact is that both coins appear to be of similar rarity in all grades including Gem condition. Check out my narrative on the regular Alabama (coin #9224) for an explanation of this controversy.
The Albany half dollar is a mid-range rarity for the silver commemorative series. The original mintage was 25,013. Of those, 13 were assay issues and 7,342 were melted as unsold at the issue price of $2. That leaves a net distributed mintage of 17,671, about mid-range mintage size for silver commems. Of the original mintage, probably 12,000 to 15,000 survive today, nearly all of them mint state. Most Albanys are in the MS64 or MS65 grade. Albanys, like most commemorative issues of the 1930s, are quite rare in circulated grades and are in high demand from "low ball" collectors.
The 1937 Antietam half dollar is a very popular commemorative issue with collectors. The original mintage was 50,028 coins although 32,000 were melted as unsold at the original issue price of $1.75. So the original mintage distributed to collectors is actually 18,028. Probably 12,000 to 15,000 of the original distributed mintage still survives today, nearly all of those survivors now grading MS63 to MS66. The Antietam has traditionally sold for a premium over the price of other commemorative issues with similar original mintages and survival rates in Choice and Gem condition. Perhaps this is due to some Southern regional chauvinism as it is a Civil War battle anniversary being commemorated.
Most Arkansas were sold at a premium to collectors, dealers, and investors so very few saw circualtion. Of the 13,012 1935 Arkansas originally minted, probably 11,000 to 12,000 exist today and most are mint state. The 1935 is the highest mintage Arkansas and it is also the most common in all grades. But interestingly, although the mintage of the 1935 is more than double that of the 1935-D and 1935-S, the 1935 is just slightly more common than the other two issues from this year. The design of the Arkansas is very flat and marks and abraisions are usually abundant. So while Arkansas are common in mint state, they are quite rare in superb MS67.
Most 1935-D Arkansas have frosty luster or varying degrees of toning. The average grade is MS63 to MS65. Circulated examples are almost unknown. The 1935-D is the most common of the three 1935 Arkansas issues in Superb MS 66 and MS67 condition, though "common" is not quite the right word. Like all Arkansas, the 1935-D is quite rare in superb MS67 condition.
Most 1935-S Arkansas have frosty luster or toning in varying degrees of attractiveness (or "unattractiveness" as the case may be). Eye appeal is an important consideration for all Arkansas. The average grade of this issue is MS63 to MS64, with circulated examples almost unheard of. The 1935-S is somewhat scarce in MS65 condition and very scarce in MS 66. MS67 examples are very rare.
Like all Arkansas, the 1936 has a high survival rate and most of the survivors grade MS63 to MS66. This issue is almost unknown in circulated condition. The 1936 is rarer than the 1936-D and 1936-S in grades MS65, MS66, and MS67. It is really rare coin in the MS67 grade. The typical 1936 Arkansas has frosty luster or varying degrees of toning.
The 1936-D is the most common of the three Arkansas issues in all grades from MS63 thru MS67. It is one of the more common of the 1935 to 1939 Arkansas issues. Superb MS66 speciemens are scarce nonetheless, and MS67 examples are quite rare with maybe just a few dozen known. This coin is basically unknown in circulated condition.
The 1936-S Arkansas is a little rarer than the 1936-D and not quite as rare as the 1936. All three issues are among the most common of the 1935-1939 Arkansas. For the 1936-S, the average grade is MS63 to MS65, with circulated examples virtually unheard of. Superb Gem MS66 specimens are rare and MS67 examples are extremely rare. The 1936-S comes with either frosty white luster or some degree of toning. Watch out for the dark, splotchy toning.
The Arkansas Centennial Commission had distributed the three 1936 Arkansas issues. It was decided to use a coin dealer for distribution of the 1937 Arkansas. The task was awarded to the New York firm of Stack's. The mintage of the three 1937 Arkansas issues was a little over half that of the 1936 issues. Stack's sold three coin sets, one of each mint, for $8.75.
The 1937-D is the most common of the three Arkansas commemoratives of that year. The average grade is MS64 or MS65 and circulated examples are virtually non-exsistent. MS66 specimens are scarce and MS67s are definitely rare. Most 1937-D Arkansas halves have a somewhat frosty, somewhat satiny luster. Toning exists in varying degrees so eye appeal is definitely an issue.
The 1939-S Arkansas is about equal in rarity to the 1939 and 1939-D in MS63 and MS64 condition, but in MS65 or better condition it is somewhat rarer than the 1939 and quite a bit rarer than the 1939-D. In other words, in Gem condition it is the rarest of the three 1937 Arkansas issues. The typical 1937-S Arkansas is either frosty or has varying degrees of toning. You could say that all Arkansas basically look the same.
The 1938 Arkansas did not sell as well as previous years. The coins were sold to the public as a three coin set (one from each Mint) for $8.75. Only 3150 sets were sold, making each of the three 1938 Arkansas issues among the lowest mintages of all U.S. commemorative coins. The three 1938 issues are about of equal rarity in MS63 thru MS65 condition, but in Superb Gem MS66 or better condition the 1938-D is by far the most common. The 1938 is not quite as rare as the 1938-S in Superb Gem condition.
The three 1938 Arkansas issues are about equally rare in MS64 to MS65 condition, but the 1938-D is not nearly as rare as the 1938 and 1938-S in Superb Gem MS66 or better condition. The average grade for the 1938-D is MS63 to MS66 and like all Arkansas, there are very few circulated examples in existence. The typical 1939-D has the subdued kind-of-frosty luster usually found on Aeransas commems. And of course toning is often present and can range anywhere on the eye appeal scale from gorgeous to downright ugly.
The average grade for the1938-S is MS63 to MS65 and the 1938-S is the rarest of the three Arkansas issues in Gem MS65 condition. It is quite rare in Superb MS66 condition. Like all Arkansas, the 1938-S has subdued frosty luster or some degree of toning. Circulated examples for all practical purposes do not exist.
All three of the 1939 Arkansas half dollars are about of equal rarity. The 1939 is a little rarer than the other two, especially in MS65 condition. The average grade is MS63 to MS65, with few, if any, circulated examples known as most of the original 2100 coins minted were saved. In superb MS66 condition, the 1939 Arkansas is definitely rare. The typically encountered specimen usually has subdued but somewhat frosty luster. And of course many survivors are toned to some degree.
With an original mintage of just 2,104 pieces, all 1939-D Arkansas are rare in an absolute sense. Most were saved, perhaps as much as 95% of the original mintage, and nearly all survivors grade MS63 to MS66. The 1939-D is slightly rarer than the 1939-S in MS65 or better condition, and not quite as rare as the 1939. Most 1939-D Arkansas have the subdued "Arkansas type" grey frosty luster, or varying degrees of toning.
With an original mintage of only 2105 coins, the 1939-S Arkansas is obviously a rare coin despite the fact that nearly the entire mintage survives to this day. Most survivors grade MS63 to MS66 and have the typical subdued grey frosty "Arkansas" luster. Circulated examples are virtually unknown Superb Gem MS66 specimens are scarce. The 1939-S is the most easily obtainable of the three 1939 Arkansas issues.
The San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge was opened to the public in November , 1936 and in the same month 100,055 Bay Bridge commemorative half dollars were struck at the San Francisco Mint. Interestingly, many were sold (at $1.50) in drive-up booths at the bridge itself. It was the first (and I think only) "drive-up" commemorative! In 1937, there were 28,631 Bay Bride half dollars melted as unsold making the distributed mintage a healthy 71,424 coins.
Silver half dollars commemorating the 200th anniversary of American folk hero Daniel Boone were struck in 1934 at the Philadelphia Mint. The series was continued thru 1938 and it was a source of some controversy as many accused some of those involved in the sale and distribution of creating some "purposeful" rarities (most notably the 1935 small 1934 D and S Mints) for personal profit.
There were 10,000 1935 Philadelphia Mint Boone half dollars minted, almost exactly the same number as the 1934 Philadelphia. The `1935 "small 34" variety also has a mintage of about 10,000 coins, the 1936 Philadelphia has a mintage of 12,012 coins and the 1937 Philadelphia has a mintage of 9,810. All other Boones have mintages of much less, from 2,003 to 5,006 per issue. The 1935 Philadelphia is obviously one of the more common Boones. Most examples grade MS63 to MS66 and it is one of the easiest Boones to find in superb condition. Most examples have frosty white luster and typically good eye appeal.
The 1935, 1935-D, and 1935-S with the "small 1934" variety of Boone commemoratives were the subject of manipulation and controversy at the time of issue. I'll tell the story of the two "manufactured rarities", the 1935-D and 1935-S small 1934, under the narrative for the 1935-D small 1934 (PCGS coin # 9263). The 1935 Philadelphia with the small 1934 had a mintage of 10,008 coins, among the highest number minted for all the Boone commemoratives. It is common in MS63 to MS66 and fairly easy to locate in Superb Gem MS67. Luster and eye appeal are usually outstanding on this issue.
While the original mintage of the 1935-D Boone was a mere 5005 coins, it is by no means rare in mint state and even Gem condition. Nearly all of the original issue was saved at the time of issue and, like all Boone commems, the 1935-D is usually found very nice. The design is attractive and the coins are usually found with frosty luster and good eye appeal. Most survivors are in the grades MS63 to MS66. Interestingly, for some reason the 1935-D is the most difficult of the Boones to find in MS67 or better condition.
In 1935, Boones were struck at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints and dated 1935. In steps the distributer, C. Frank Dunn, the secretary of the Boone Bicentennial Commision, along with others, who convinced the powers that be that the 1935 Boones should also have the 1934 date on them. Then a very small number of Denver and San Francisco Mint Boones (2,003 and 2,004 respectively) were struck dated 1935 but also having a "small" 1934 on the coin. This small mintage literally created a contemporary rarity. Dunn offered the two low mintage "small 1934" varieties thru the numismatic press at $3.70 for the pair. However, very few people who ordered them actually got their order filled. Speculation is that Dunn bought the coins himself and just refunded everyone's money. Shortly after the 1935-D & S small 1934 Boones "sold out" they jumped in price on the aftermarket to $25 for the pair, then eventually $50 for the pair. And shortly after that Dunn came up with a good number of the coins, supposedly from people who had originally bought and then had resold to Dunn. The whole sleazy deal was part of the boom and bust commemorative collecting/investing fad of the mid-1930's.
The 1935-S, though the mintage was only 5005 coins, is fairly easy to find in MS63 thru MS66 condition. Like most Boones, it comes frosty and nice. The majority of the survivors grade MS64 to MS66. The 1935-S is, however, one of the tougher Boones to find in Superb MS67 condition.
A mere 2,004 1935-S with the "small 1934" Boones were minted and distributed. Though the subject of controversy at the time of issue (see the narrative for the 1935-D small 1934, coin #9263), the fact is that this is one of the lowest mintage silver commemoratives and indeed one of the lowest mintage regular strike United States coins of the 20th century. Virtually the entire mintage was saved at the time of issue and this coin is fairly easy to find in MS64 thru MS 66 condition. The 1935-S small 1934 is rarer than the 1935-D small 1934 in MS65 and MS66 condition, and in MS67 condition, the 1935-S small 1934 is rare. Most examples have semi-frosty satin like surfaces and they usually have good eye appeal.
Business was "back to usual" for the 1936 Boones and for the Philadelphia Mint issue 12,012 specimens were distributed to the numismatic community, making the 1936 Boone the highest mintage of 1934-1938 Boone commemorative series. As might be expected, the 1936 is the easiest Boone to find in MS63 to MS57 condition, though the the 1937 is virtually identical in availability. Most 1936 Boones have frosty to satin-like luster and excellent eye appeal.
There were 5005 1936-D Boones sold making it mid range for mintages in the Boone series. It is only slightly less common than the higher mintage Boones. Most survivors, which includes nearly all of the original mintage, grade MS63 to MS66. The 1936-D is one of the more difficult Boones to find in Superb Gem MS67 condition. Most 1936-D Boones, like most Boones, have semi-frosty, semi-satin like surfaces and excellent eye appeal.
Though not a rarity in the absolute sense (a statement that can be made of all Boone commemoratives), the 1936-S is the rarest of the three 1936 issues. Virtually the entire 5,006 coin mintage was saved at the time of issue and almost all of the survivors grade MS63 to MS67. Luster for the 1936-S is the typical semi-frosty, semi-satiny "Boone" luster.
More shenanigans from the infamous C. Frank Dunn were foisted on the coin collecting public for the 1937 Boones. The 1937 Philadelphias were priced at $1.60, but the Denver issue could only be bought as a pair with the Philadelphia for $7.25. The San Francisco issue was priced at $5.15, a price considered outrageous at the time. The explotation of the collectors was a little two obvious and consequently sales of the 1937-D and 1937-S were quite low, a total of only 2,506 coins each.
The 1937-D Boone has an extremely low mintage of only 2,506 coins. This was due to some manipulation at the time of issue (see my narrative on the 1937 Philadelphia, PCGS coin #9270). Nonetheless, today this low mintage figure definitely drives demand. Since virtually the entire mintage was saved, the 1937-D is not a truly rare coin, but it is one of the more scarce Boones. Most survivors grade MS63 to MS67, and very few circulated pieces exist. It is not quite as rare as the equally low mintage 1937-S. The typical 1937-D has semi-frosty, semi-satiny luster and usually good eye appeal.
The original mintage for 1937-S Boone is only 2,506 coins and although almost all of them survive and all the survivors are in MS63 to MS67 condition, this is obviously a scarce coin in an absolute sense. The 1937-S is slightly rarer than the 1937-D in all grades and both the 1937-S and 1937-D are considerably rarer than the higher mintage 1937 Philadelphia. The average grade of this issue is MS63 to MS67. Most 1937-S Boones have semi-frosty/semi-satiny luster and good eye appeal.
The sorid tale of collector explotation by the distributors of the Boone commemoratives, specifically C. Frank Dunn, came to an end after the 1938 issue. The coins from the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints were sold as a three coin set for a discounted (from the previous year's prices) of $6.50. Only 2100 sets were sold as the public was pretty feed up with the commem market. All three 1938 issues are about equal rarity, though the 1938-D is actually a little more available than the 1938 ad 1938-S. The 1938 is the rarest of the three in MS67 or better condition. The typical 1938 has satin like-luster and fairly good eye appeal.
Though the 1938-D Boone has a mintage of only 2100 coins, probably 95% or more of that original mintage survives today. And most of the survivors are MS63 to MS67 quality. In truly superb MS66 or better condition, the 1938-D is the most common of the three 1938 Boones. Most 1938 Boones have satiny luster adn outstanding eye appeal.
The 1938-S Boone had a miniscule original mintage of only 2100 coins and even though most of the original mintage was saved and never saw cirulation, it is a relatively scarce coin. The average 1938-S Boone has satiny-like surfaces and good eye appeal. It is slightly rarer than the 1938-D and not quite as rare as the 1938, especially in Superb Gem MS67 condition.
There were 25,015 Bridgeport commemorative half dollars originally minted. They were sold at $2 each with a limit of 5 coins per order, so they were widely dispersed. Today, they are one of the more common commems. They are very easy to obtain in just about any grade. Even Superb MS67s are scarce only, not rare. The typical Bridgeport has semi-frosty, semi-satiny luster. Because the eagle's design is so spacious and flat, marks on the eagle's wing (which takes up about half of the reverse) are the most frequently encountered problem with this issue.
The Booker T Washington commemorative half dollars were issues for six years, 1946 to 1951. Each of the three U.S. Mints...Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco...issued coins in all six years, so there are a total of 18 Booker T Washington issues. For the first two years, mintages were huge. In fact, for the 1946 Philadelphia BTW, over a million coins were struck. They were not very popular at the time of issue, but many survive today. They are one of the more available issues in the silver commemorative series.Tthe typical 1946 Philadelphia BTW half is quite frosty. While not rare in MS65 and MS66, due to the flatness of the design and propensity for marks, examples graded MS67 and above are quite rare. This can be said for all Booker T Washingtons, so it's definitely a design issue.
The 1946 Denver is the lowest mintage of the three 1946 Booker T Washingtons, but at 200,000 minted it can hardly be considered rare. Like all Booker T Washingtons, the 1946-D is rare in super high Gem grades. And in MS66 and MS67 grades, the 1946-D is much scarcer than the 1946 and 1946-S. The typical 1946-D BTW has frosty luster and is relatively well struck.
The 1946-S Booker T Washington is a high mintage issue that's relatively common in all mint state grades. The typical specimen has frosty luster and good eye appeal. The 1946 BTW's have long been among the least expensive of all the U.S. silver commemoratives of the classic 1892-1954 era, though in the ultimate MS67 and MS68 there are issues that are even more common, namely the Norfolk and Iowa.
While the original mintage is listed at 100,000 coins for each of the three Mints, in all probability the vast majority were melted as unsold. In fact, Dave Bowers estimates that 94,000 coins of each issue were melted and the original distribution was only 6,000 coins for each Mint. These coins just weren't very popular at the time of issue, and in collectors' minds anyway they were just a repeat of the 1946 issues. Today, all three Mints have similar survival rates in all grades. They are readily available in all grades up to MS66. Superb Gem MS67 examples are rare. Toning is an issue with these coins as they can be found with nice white luster, with gorgeous and spectacular rainbow toning, and with downright ugly, dirty-looking toning. As with most silver commemoratives, eye appeal is a huge factor.
See the comments on the 1947 (coin# 9408). The 1947-D is slightly rarer in top grades than the other two 1947 BTW issues. And again all three are rare in MS67 condition.
See the commemnts on the 1947 (coin# 9408). The 1947 and 1947-S BTWs are virtually identical in rarity, both readily available in grades up to MS66, and rare in MS67.
Like the 1947 BTWs, the 1948 Booker T Washingtons were not very good sellers at the time of issue. For each of the three Mints, 20,000 coins were struck, 12,000 were subsequently melted as unsold, leaving a quantity distributed to the public at 8,000 for each of the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints. Today, the three issues are fairly available in mint states grades up to MS66, but like the 1947s, and indeed all BTWs, they are rare in MS67 or better condition. The problem is marks on the relatively flatly designed face. Interestingly, the coins are rarely seen in circulated grades. The sets had a three coin face value of $1.50, and they were only sold by the set, and the price was $7.50. So the people who bought them, kept them! This is quite a bit different fron the 1946 issues, which were made in such a large number, about 1,200,000 distributed, that they were really only worth face value early on, so many were spent. The three 1948 BTWs are all about equal rarity.
See comments on the 1948 Philadelphia (coin# 9412). Available in mint state grades up to and including MS66, rare in MS67 or better.
See comments on 1948 Philadelphia (coin# 9412). Available in grades up to and including MS66, rare in MS67 or better.
The original sales brochure (illustrated above) with a 1951-dated Booker-T. Washington Half Dollar attached, appeared at the February 2016 Long Beach Expo and was obtained by David Hall Rare Coins. It is a highly unusual brochure because the purpose of the Booker T. Washington Half Dollar was to raise money for a memorial birthplace. The Americanism (or anti-Communism) theme was intended for the Washington-Carver Half Dollar, first issued in 1951. Thus, this brochure is an unusual transition piece which projected the purpose of the new coin onto the old.
The California commemorative half dollar was struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1925 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of California statehood. A total of 150,200 were originally disributed. Many of them were distributed directly to the public at the original issue price of $1 per coin. This is one commemorative issue that was very widely disbursed. Today, this relatively high mintage coin is not rare, but I have never heard of any significant quantity deals of this issue. Surviving specimens grade anywhere from circulated to MS67. Luster can either be white and frosty or semi-prooflike and satiny. There are many beautifully toned specimens, so whether you're looking for a pure white coin or an attractively toned specimen, you'll be able to find what you want.
Despite the dubious origins, Cincinnati commemoratives are quite popular with collectors today. They should probably be considered semi-common to semi-scarce in grades of MS63 to MS66. Superb MS67 examples are definitely scarce. Interestingly, though the three coins have identical mintages, the 1936-D is far more populous than the 1936 and the 1936-S is rarer still. The 1936 Philadelphia Mint Cincinnati is semi-common in all grades up to MS67, and it's scarce in the top grade of MS67. The 1936 has a semi-frosty, somewhat satiny luster and comes either white or with varying degrees of toning.
The three Cincinnatis all have relatively low mintages of about 5,000 coins. Thirty years ago, this issue was considered to be rarer than it actually is. Today, we know that Cincinnatis are sort of scarce, but not that scarce. They are relatively easy to obtain in grades up to and including MS66. The 1936-D, though its mintage is basically identical to the 1936 and 1936-S, is for some reason much more populous and easier to find. The typical 1936-D Cincinnati has somewhat frosty, somewhat satiny luster and can either be satiny white in color or toned to varying degrees of attractiveness (or unattractiveness as the case may be).
Only 5,006 1936-S Cincinnatis were originally distributed, yet most were saved as this issue is fairly easy to obtain in grades MS63 thru MS65. Superb MS66 examples are somewhat scarce. For some reason, the 1936-S is the rarest of the three Cincinnatis though their original mintages are virtually identical. The typical 1936-S Cincinnati has a somewhat frosty, somewhat satiny luster or toning of varying degrees.
With a mintage of over 50,000 coins, the Cleveland half dollar is one of the most comon silver commemoratives of the classic 1893-1954 era. Interestingly, half of the Clevelands were struck in July, 1936, and the other half were struck in February, 1937, but dated 1936. There is no way to tell the two "batches" apart. The majority of Clevelands were saved at the time of issue as they were sold to the public at a premium price of $1.50. Many Clevelands remained in dealer hands (mostly Abe Kosoff and Sol Kaplan) for a number of years. Today, almost all Clevelands grade MS63 to MS66. They are the third most populous silver commem graded by PCGS, after the 1946 Iowa and 1935-S San Diego. Clevelands are readily available in Gem condition and many are very frosty and lustrous.
The three Columbia, South Carolina commemoratives were minted in quantities sufficient to satisfy the demand of buyers at the time. Unlike other issues of the era, there appears to have been very little hanky-panky with this issue and these coins were very well distributed. Most collectors find the coins attractive and they are fairly easy to obtain in Gem condition and this, coupled with their very modest pprice, makes them quite popular.
Though the mintages and survival rates of the three 1936 Columbias are nearly identical, for some reason the 1936-D is far easier to find in MS66, MS67 and even MS68 condition than the 1936 and 1936-S. Most 1936-Ds have very mark-free surfaces and either very frosty, semi-satinlike luster or nice, often very attractive, toning.
The three 1936 Columbias have about the same relative rarity. At the highest end of the quality scale, the 1936-D is the most common in Superb Gem condition, the 1936 is the scarcest, and the 1936-S is somewhere in-between. The typical 1936-S, like the other two Columbias, has excellent mark-free and lustrous surfaces. The eye appeal of these commem issues is usually outstanding, though there are some very dark and spotted examples and those should of course be avoided.
The first true commemoratives struck by the United States Mint were the 1892 and 1893 Columbian Exposition half dollars. The coins were to be sold at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Exposition was originally scheduled to be held in 1892, but was postponed until 1893, hence the Exposition half dollars were struck in two different years. The event commemorated was of course Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America in 1492.
Although there were 500,000 more 1893 Columbians struck than were struck of the 1892 Columbians, the 1893 is somewhat scarcer in all grades MS63 thru MS67. My speculation is that many of the 1893s were unsold and were placed into circulation. And indeed, the 1893s are more common in grades below MS63. The 1893 Columbians come with all types of looks. The can be frosty or occasionally semi-proof-like. They are found with all shades of toning and varying degrees of attractiveness (or ugliness as the case may be). Hold out for attractive, sharply struck specimens as they definitely exist and the wait won't be that long for the right coin.
The Connecticut half dollar was struck to commemorate the 300th anniversary (tercentenary) of the founding of the colony of Connecticut. The original mintage was 25,000 coins and they were apparently quite popular as they were widely dististributed at their original issue price of $1. Today, the Connecticut is popular with collectors as a one-year-only type coin with a fairly attractive design, and a coin which is scarce enough to be desireable but not so rare as to be overly expensive. The eagle on the reverse is the focal point for marks and abraisions, so look for Gems with good feather detail and minimum marks. Luster is usually quite frosty and of course there are toned examples of varying degrees.
The Delaware commemorative half was struck to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Swedish colonists landing in Delaware, an event that took place in 1638. Strangely, the Delaware commems were dated 1936, struck in 1937, and sold in 1938. The original issue price was $1.75. Delawares were widely available in the numismatic market place through-out the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. today, Delawares are moderately scarce.
The Elgin was one of the many commemoratives struck in the 1934-1939 "commemorative boom" era. The original mintage for the Elgin was 25,015 coins. The entire mintage was well distributed at the original issue price of $1.75. Today, Elgins are fairly easily obtained as most of the original mintage was saved and the majority of the survivors grade in the MS63 to MS67 range. Of the coins of this period with similar mintages, the Elgin is not as rare as the Robinson, Connecticut, Lynchburg, Maryland, Gettysberg, Albany, New Rochelle, or Antietam. It is similar in rarity to the Roanoke, and rarer than the Norfolk, Wisconsin, and York.
The Gettysburgs were only struck in Philadelphia and 26,928 were originally distributed. The issue price was $1.65, later raised to $2.65. Whatever the abuses of the original issue, today Gettysburgs are very popular with commemorative collectors. The design is impressive and the event commemorated was indeed monumental.
The Gettysburg is moderately scarce in Gem condition. It is more scarce than the New Rochelle, Antietam, Elgin, Roanoke, Norfolk, Wisconsin, and York. It is not as rare as the Connecticut and Robinson and the Gettysburg is about equal in rarity to the Lnychburg, Maryland, and Albany.
The Grant half dollar is much rarer in Gem condition than many of the 1930s issues with much lower mintages, such as the Maryland, Gettysburg, Norfolk, New Rochelle, etc. Also note that most Grant half dollars have very obvious die striations swirling on the surfaces of the fields and most examples are also weakly struck thru the hair. The typical Grant has a more satiny than frosty luster. But if you can find a well struck example, eye appeal can be outstanding.
The typical Grant with star has more satiny than frosty luster. Strike on Grant's hair can be problematic. And of course, toning can either add or subtract from eye appeal.
The Hawaiian commemorative half dollar, struck to commemorate the sequicentennial (150th anniversary) of Captain Cook's landing in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, was a rousing success. Unlike many other silver commemoratives, especially those struck in the "abusive" commemorative era of 1935-1939, the Hawaiian was a legitimate anniversary, a relatively low mintage coin, and a "honestly" distributed issue. The Hawaiian halves were sold at an issue price of $2 by the Bank of Hawaii. The original 10,008 coins minted sold out immediately, even though the $2 issue price was the highest of any commemorative half dollar to that point.
Today, Hudsons are highly prized by commemorative collectors, especially in Gem condition. The typical Hudson grades MS63 to MS65. There are some circulated grade examples but the vast majority of Hudsons are mint state. Superb MS66 examples are rare, and there are only a handful of MS67 examples known. Most Hudson have semi-frosty luster and many are toned to various degrees. Strike can often be somewhat of an issue and sophisticated collectors look for specimens with "fully struck sails."
The average grade for a Huguenot is MS63 to MS65. Superb MS66 examples are scarce, and MS67 specimens are quite rare. Huguenots usually have subdued, satin-like luster. Most examples are usually well struck and relatively mark-free. Some examples are toned and eye appeal is the major consideration for this issue.
No silver commemoratives were struck during the "war" years of 1940 to 1945. In 1946, the Iowa half dollar was struck to commemorate the centennial of Iowa statehood. The mintage was quite large, 100,057 coins. The issue price was a relatively high $2.50 for Iowa residents and $3.00 for everyone else. The coins were saved in large quantities and today the Iowa is one of the most common silver commemoratives of the 1892-1954 "classic era".
The Gettysburg is moderately scarce in Gem condition. It is more scarce than the New Rochelle, Antietam, Elgin, Roanoke, Norfolk, Wisconsin, and York. It is not as rare as the Connecticut and Robinson and the Gettysburg is about equal in rarity to the Lnychburg, Maryland, and Albany.
The 1893 Isabella commemorative quarter dollars received virtually no attention from the public and were lost in the shadow of the Columbian half dollar controversy. At the World’s Columbian Exposition itself, relatively few were purchased, probably because they represented less of a “good buy” at the dollar price demanded, for someone could buy a Columbian half dollar – a coin of twice the face value – for the same amount. While Columbian half dollars were sold through exhibits at several places at the fair, the only notable exhibit of Isabella quarters was in the Woman’s Building.
The 1900-dated Lafayette silver dollar represents the first United Statescommemorative coin of that denomination and the only silver dollar commemorative to be minted until decades later in the 1980s. Interestingly, from an official viewpoint the “1900” designation appearing on the Lafayette dollar is not the official date of the coin. Indeed, apparently, the coin has no official date.
This event...the "shot heard round the world" at Lexington-Concord in 1775 that signaled the start of the American Revolution...certainly was a legitimate event to commemorate. A total of 162,099 coins were minted. At the initial festivities in April, 1925, there were approximately 60,000 coins sold as souvenirs at $1.00 per coin. Then the coins were sold throughout New England and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the United States. In other words, the Lexington commemorative half dollar was very widely distributed at the time of issue.
Although the Illinois Centennial half dollar (more commonly known as the "Lincoln") is one of the earliest U.S. silver commemoratives, the mintage was huge and today the Linoln is one of the most common commems. The original mintage was 100,058 coins and they were initially sold at $1.00 per coin.
Most Long Islands are mint state, with the average grade being MS63 to MS65. Superb Gem MS66 examples are not difficult to obtain. But MS67 examples are definitely rare. This is probably due to the fact that both the obverse and reverse designs are somewhat flat and marks and abraisions are fairly common. Most Long Islands have frosty luster.
The Lynchburg was struck to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Lynchburg, Virginia city charter. There were 20,000 coins minted, a modest amount, and they were sold at the somewhat modest price of $1.00 per coin. There must have been a tremendous amount of this issue saved because today, relative to its mintage, it is readily available in MS63 to MS66 condition and circulated examples basically do not exist.The Gettysburg is moderately scarce in Gem condition. It is more scarce than the New Rochelle, Antietam, Elgin, Roanoke, Norfolk, Wisconsin, and York. It is not as rare as the Connecticut and Robinson and the Gettysburg is about equal in rarity to the Lnychburg, Maryland, and Albany.
Above coin descriptions courtesy of David Hall - Formerly of Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)