Up for discussion today is one of four coins in the classic commemorative series to feature the portrait of a living person -- a 1936 City of Lynchburg, Virginia Sesquicentennial half-dollar presented in PCGS
Lynchburg traces its roots to the initiation of a ferry service across the Fluvanna River (now James River) started by John Lynch. John was only 17 at the time and started the ferry on land owned by his father. The ferry enabled those north of the river to get to the trading center at New London without risking the perils of crossing it. In time, the village at Lynch's Ferry became a trading center itself. John Lynch petitioned the Virginia General Assembly for a land grant/town charter in 1784. In 1786, 45 acres of land were granted and the Town of Lynchburg was founded.Read More: Commems Collection
The Lynchburg half-dollar was struck to mark the 150th anniversary of the granting of the charter and founding of the town. A portrait of John Lynch was an obvious choice for a primary design element for the coin, and was considered. Unfortunately, no images of John Lynch were available from which to model a portrait. Rather than create a "fictitious" portrait as was done for the portrait of Columbus on the 1892 Columbian half-dollar, an alternate design solution was sought. Ultimately, it was decided to feature a portrait of Senator Carter Glass on the obverse of the coin.
Why Glass? He had strong ties to Lynchburg, he was born there in 1858. He was an important political figure in Virginia for many years, including serving as a US Congressman from 1902 to 1918, and US Senator from Virginia from 1920 to 1946. (In between, he was US Secretary of the Treasury as part of the Woodrow Wilson administration.) He was also significantly involved in shaping our current financial system, including playing a significant role in the creation of the Federal Reserve System as well as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
All that said, Sen. Glass did not want to be featured on the commemorative coin and even contacted the Treasury Department in an attempt to be removed from consideration as he didn't believe a living person should be depicted. Ultimately, his wishes were "overruled" and his portrait was used for the coin's obverse. He must have comes to terms with it all, however, as he served as the honorary president of the Lynchburg Sesquicentennial Association.
The reverse of the coin features a standing Lady Liberty with welcoming, outstretched arms; in the background is seen the old Lynchburg Courthouse. The coin was the work of Charles Keck who also designed the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition gold $1.00 and the 1927 Vermont-Bennington Sesquicentennial 50-cent coin. When looking at the three coins side-by-side, characteristics of Keck's artistic style become evident -- try it!
The coin shown has a brilliant obverse and reverse, with just the slightest hint of toning on the obverse and a bit of peripheral toning on the top half of the reverse. Both sides have nice cartwheel luster and a minimum of marks. A total of 20,000 coins were struck, but survivors in grades beyond MS-66 are relatively rare.
To supplement the coin, I've included an example of its original five-coin holder/mailer.
Who can post the names of the other classic commemoratives that feature the portrait of a living person?
Enjoy!1936 Lynchburg, VA Sesquicentennial -- Obverse1936 Lynchburg, VA Sesquicentennial -- Reverse1936 Lynchburg, VA Sesquicentennial -- Original Holder, Front1936 Lynchburg, VA Sesquicentennial -- Original Holder, Interior