It's been awhile since I last posted about the US commemorative coin ephemera I have collected over the years, so I decided it was time to "dive into the box" and see if I could find something interesting to present! Hopefully, you'll agree that I was successful in my search!
The Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association (SMCMA) tried many ways to promote/market its 1925 half dollar back in the mid-1920s. It did not, however, create custom packaging for its coins - this was left to private concerns that supported the Association's efforts and purchased large quantities of its coins to either giveaway or market on their own.
When I took an interest in the paperwork and holders associated with the classic era commemorative coins, I became aware of a particular distribution card that was used to market and deliver examples of the Stone Mountain half dollar. As I searched for a nice example of the card, more than one dealer told me that it was used to help sell/distribute the coins back in 1925/26. I also read published articles that described the card along similar lines. I accepted this information as fact as I had no reason to doubt it. My curiosity about the card, however, lead me to conduct my own research on it and I came to realize that it has a very different origin story from what I had been told.
The distribution card I am referring to is shown below, it is the "Bernard Baruch Collection" holder.
Bernard Baruch was a very successful financier who developed his personal fortune via investments in the stock market. His success in personal and corporate finance led to his serving as an advisor to US Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman and to serving in multiple appointed positions during World War I, World War II and in the post-War period. During WWI, for example, he was appointed as the head of the War Industries Board which coordinated the wartime production of strategic American industries. After World War II, he served as the US Ambassador to the UN Atomic Energy Commission.Bernard BaruchBernard Baruch Stone Mountain Half Dollar Special Distribution CardCitizens and Southern National Bank Envelope for Baruch Distribution Card1925 Stone Mountain Half Dollar Attached to Distribution Card
It is known that Baruch personally purchased a large quantity of the Stone Mountain coins to support the SMCMA during the time of its active marketing of the coin; he also served as the honorary chairman of a New York committee organized to promote sales of the coin. Depending on the reference consulted, the number of coins he was reported to have purchased ranged from a low of 1,000 to a high of 100,000. I would suggest a quantity of 10,000 based on the quantity included in his 1956 donation. (See below.)New York Stone Mountain Half Dollar Committee Coin Holder
Though I tried for years, I struck out purchasing a clean example of the holder from a dealer or via eBay - in my experience, many come dirty, torn and/or folded - but I did finally find one being offered in a StacksBowers auction several years ago.
The catalog described the coin as a "splendid Gem warmly toned and attractive." It graded the coin as MS-66. I didn't agree with either assessment at the time and I still don't today! But, my interest in the lot was in the holder and envelope - each of which was in excellent shape. Also, the coin was still in the cellophane sleeve that it originally came in (attached via staple to the holder) and was still intact. I turned out to be the high bidder on the lot and it was soon on its way to me.
Of note, the lot description for the coin and holder stated, "According to the Swiatek-Breen commemorative reference, the distribution of Bernard Baruch's coins took place in 1928." You can't always believe what's printed in an auction catalog!
The holder was created in the 1950s not 1925 or during the late 1920s. In 1956, Baruch donated 9,000 Stone Mountain half dollars to the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to be sold by the group to help raise funds for the construction of its new headquarters building in Richmond, VA. Baruch donated the coins to the UDC in memory of his late mother, Mrs. Simon Baruch, who had been a UDC member.
The coins were stored in the vaults of Citizens and Southern National Bank in Atlanta, Georgia, and were distributed by the bank. Special cards were printed to hold the Baruch coins, with the coin being placed in a cellophane envelope that was stapled to the card. Card and coin were then placed in an envelope with the bank's name and location. As can be seen on the card holder, the coins were sold at a price of $3.25 each. As a point of comparison, in 1956, an uncirculated Stone Mountain half dollar generally retailed for between $2.00 and $2.50.
So, sale of the coins aided two distinct construction projects. The original sale of the coins generated funds for use by the SMCMA in achieving its objective of creating the Stone Mountain monument, and the subsequent sale, roughly 30 years later, which helped raise money to support the construction of a UDC headquarters building - a numismatic double dip!
For more of my posts about the Stone Mountain Half Dollar and associated ephemera, see: Read More: Commems Collection