Many moons ago, I posted about the Cincinnati commemorative half dollar; you can find it here:1936 Cincinnati Half Dollar
As part of that post, I included an example of the coin's standard three-coin holder that was used by the coin's sponsor to distribute purchased coins.
Tonight, I thought I'd showcase one of the much rarer notarized distribution holders.Read More: Commems Collection
The 1936 half dollar commemorating Cincinnati as a center of music was the brainchild of Thomas Gatch Melish. He was not
a prominent figure in the Cincinnati music scene, either as a performer, administrator or benefactor. He was, however, an entrepreneurial collector and successful local businessman who saw an opportunity for profit during the commemorative craze of the mid-1930s.
To cash in on "the craze," Melish formed the Cincinnati Musical Center Commemorative Coin Association. The sole purpose of what was essentially a one-man Association was to secure approval of a commemorative half dollar from Congress and then sell it to collectors for personal profit. Neither investing in the local music scene nor sponsoring a celebration of its history was on the agenda for the Association.
(Students of the classic series will recall that Melish used a similar model for the half dollar that jointly celebrated the centennial of Cleveland centennial and the Great Lakes Exposition.)
Though not part of the local music scene, Melish was, at least, active in the Cincinnati numismatic community; he served multiple terms on the Board of Governors for the Cincinnati Numismatic Association.
After the Cincinnati was approved, Melish arranged with the Mint to have the first 200 coins struck at each Mint facility be handled with special care (including being caught with soft gloves as they fell from the press) and placed in consecutively-numbered envelopes. These first-off-the-press sets were placed into custom-inscribed three-coin black leatherette holders that feature a notarized certificate attesting to the set's mintage sequence.
The certificate includes a space for the set's striking order to be written in and for the signatures of Thomas G. Melish, the President of the Association, and a Notary Public. I'm uncertain of the name associated with the signature for the notary on my holder, my eyes see a last name of "Brake" but I certainly wouldn't bet on it! Except for the certificate on the back, the scarce notarized holders are physically the same as the standard three-coin holders that were also used by the Association.
The holder in my collection is associated with the 6th set of coins produced. Unfortunately, the holder had been separated from the original coins by the time it became available to me; I don't know when the coins were separated from the holder or whether they remain together as a set. From the original mailing envelope that accompanied my holder, I do know the coin set was delivered to a collector in Brooklyn, NY in August of 1936.
As just 200 of the notarized holders (with the specially-handled coins) were created, the holders have always been somewhat scarce. Based on their infrequent appearances in auctions and dealer showcases at major coin shows, it seems reasonable to say that only a fraction of the original 200 notarized holders have survived. (In comparison, the same three-coin holder without the attached notarized certificate appears in the marketplace with some regularity.)
Can I put a number to the surviving notarized holders? Not with any claim to certainty. I will suggest, however, that it seems likely that fewer than 50 still exist. In reviewing multiple on-line auction archives, as well as older printed auction catalogs in my library, I've identified fewer than 10 of these notarized holders (some have appeared in multiple auctions).
My holder has weathered the last 80 years rather well, and doesn't show any significant signs of wear or damage.
Who knows, maybe someday I'll peer into some dealer's showcase and see a PDS set of Cincinnati half dollars accompanied by a letter indicating they were the 6th set off the presses and I will be able to reunite the coins and holder!
Enjoy!1936 Cincinnati Notarized Holder - Front
1936 Cincinnati Notarized Holder - Back
Here is my Cincinnati. It is a lustrous example that appears rather subdued here due my scans (vs. properly-lighted digital photos).