Decided it was time to spend a little time on the West Coast, so today the 1936 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Opening commemorative half-dollar takes the stage via a PCGS
MS-66. (Had this one prepped and ready before I saw TreeMonkey's post -- hope another view of this one won't hurt!)
Yes, this coin is commonly referred to as the "Bay Bridge," but the title above is its more official name as per its authorizing legislation. It was issued to mark the opening of the bridge that spans the San Francisco Bay and connects the cities of San Francisco and Oakland. The bridge opened to the public on 12 November 1936 -- motorists could purchase the coin during its opening days at kiosks at the entrances for $1.50. Read More: Commems Collection
The bridge is actually a pair of bridges (a Western Span and Eastern Span) that meet at Yerba Buena Island. The Western Span from San Francisco is primarily a suspension bridge, while the Eastern Span to Oakland is primarily a cantilever bridge. The Eastern Span was damaged during the 1989 earthquake that hit the area and is being replaced by a new suspension bridge due to open in September 2013.
The coin's design is the work of local artist Jacques Schnier and features a California grizzly bear on its obverse and a somewhat "artistically licensed" view of the bridge on its reverse. I've always liked the "creamy" look that nicely preserved Bay Bridge coins display on their obverse, nice examples can have one of the most unique looks in the entire series. The fully detailed (i.e., busy) reverse hides many marks but is certainly attractive on well-struck examples. The Bay Bridge is one of only a few commemoratives struck at the San Francisco Mint; the mintmark is to the left of the bear's right paw.
In addition to my certified coin, I've also included an interesting item I picked up a few years back -- a Bay Bridge commemorative half in a "numbered, artist signed" holder.
write-up on the Bay Bridge references these signed pieces and states they were signed by Jacques Schnier in 1980. That date is a little surprising considering the 1986 copyright notice on the back of the card, but I have no solid evidence to suggest NGC
Schnier was born in 1898, emigrated to the US from Romania in 1903, grew up in San Francisco, got an Architectural degree from Stanford, was an Art professor at Berkeley as well as a prolific, critically-acclaimed sculptor whose commissions ranged from small to monumental. He died in 1988.
The coins in these holders are said to range from choice AU to choice BU. I would rate the piece in this holder an MS-62/63.
The signature holder is an interesting supplement to my core collection.
Enjoy!1936 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Opening -- Obverse1936 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Opening -- ReverseArtist-Signed Holder -- Obverse/FrontArtist-Signed Holder -- Reverse/Back