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Commems Collection: A Distant Relative To 1926 Am Ind Sesqui Half Dollar

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 Posted 01/04/2021  5:15 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Here's something a bit different...

Conjoined portraits are a common sight on coins from countries around the world. Often, they feature a member of a royal/ruling family along with his/her spouse or some other family member. In the US, our conjoined portrait coins have featured private citizens: political figures, military figures, historical figures and symbolic figures. (You can read more about the US coins here: US Commemorative Conjoined Portrait Coins.)

About 10 years ago, I came across a set of 1975 commemorative coins from Bolivia that immediately made me think of the 1926 American Independence Sesquicentennial half dollar. My thoughts were driven by the parallels I saw between the designs of the US vs. Bolivia coins - the coins looked "familiar" to me. The Bolivian set's three coins share a common design, conjoined portraits of Simon Bolivar (the Liberator) and the then-current Bolivian President/Dictator Hugo Banzer. The coins were issued to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Bolivia's independence from Spain.

Bolivar, a central political and driving military figure of the independence movement that swept through South America in the early 19th century, was also Bolivia's first president (just like George Washington who is depicted on the 1926 US commemorative half dollar) and Banzer was the country's president at the time the coins were released (just like Calvin Coolidge was on the US coin). Also, as with the US Sesquicentennial coin, the figure from the past (Bolivar) is depicted as the forward portrait with the then-present-day figure (Banzer) presented in the rear position. Undeniable design parallels!

The coins were non-circulating commemoratives struck for Bolivia by Imprensa Nacional - Casa da Moeda, Portugal (INCM) - the Portuguese Mint. As noted. they feature a common design and also all have reeded edges and were all struck on planchets of 0.933 fine silver (with the balance being copper).

Obverse Design: Coat of Arms of Bolivia flanked by the commemorative dates of "1825" and "1975" with "SESQUICENTENARIO" below. The country's coat-of-arms has changed a bit over time, but the one presented on the 1975 commemorative coins was established via the Bolivian Presidential Decree of July 14, 1888:

Article 1 The Coat of Arms of the Republic of Bolivia is elliptical in shape. In its center and lower part is the Cerro de Potosí with an alpaca on its right and a bundle of wheat and the bread tree on its left. In the upper part a rising sun, behind the Cerro de Potosí, with the corresponding clouds. Around the oval, whose inner fillet will be gold, this inscription "BOLIVIA" in the upper part, and nine gold stars in the lower part, blue overfield. On each side, three pavilions, a cannon, two rifles, an Inca ax on the left and the Cap of Liberty on the right. The Shield is crowned with the Condor of the Andes in an attitude of taking flight, perched between two intertwined branches of olive and laurel. The outer field will be pearly blue.

Note: The nine gold stars referenced above were meant to be symbolic of Bolivia's nine administrative departments. A 10th star was added to the Arms in the late 1960s in memory of Bolivia's tenth department which was lost to Peru during a war in 1879.

Reverse Design: Conjoined, left-facing portraits of Simon Bolivar, the Liberator (right/front) and President Hugo Banzer (left/rear). The "ORDEN - PAZ - TRABAJO" inscription at the bottom rim translates as "ORDER - PEACE - WORK".

The individual specifications for the three coins are as follows:

100 Bolivian Pesos
Diameter: 25.5 millimeters
Weight: 10 grams
Actual Silver Weight (ASW): 0.300 troy ounces
Mintage 160,000

300 Bolivian Pseos
Diameter: 30.0 millimeters
Weight: 15 grams
Actual Silver Weight (ASW): 0.4499 troy ounces
Mintage 140,000

500 Bolivian Pesos
Diameter: 34.0 millimeters
Weight: 22 grams
Actual Silver Weight (ASW): 0.6599 troy ounces
Mintage 100,000

The sense of familiarity I get when viewing the coins makes me happy that I added the set to my collection years ago. My set came in a custom dark red/black holder (seen in the images) that I was told, at the time of my purchase, was used to house sets presented as official gifts - I have never been able to verify/refute this, however.

I realize these coins are not US commemorative coins, but, I ask your indulgence. In some of my posts, I try to present ways to enhance/expand one's core collection. I've tried to reflect this via the related coins and ephemera I've presented over the years. Making folks aware of these Bolivian coins is just another of my attempts!

IMO, the design similarities and historical parallels to the 1926 American Independence Sesquicentennial half dollar (and the fact that Bolivar and Washington are often compared) are enough for me to feel comfortable including them in my collection of non-US coins that make me think of US history. Besides, I like 'em!

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 01/04/2021  5:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A great comparison. Thank you for the background information to go with it.
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 Posted 01/04/2021  5:25 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great read as always!
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