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US Commemorative Coin Series: Quick Bits #17 - First US Coin By A Woman

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 Posted 04/10/2021  09:14 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
The first US coin to be designed by a woman is one within the classic US commemorative coin series - the 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial half dollar.

Laura Gardin Fraser (LGF) is credited with developing the final designs for the coin and for preparing its models. It is important to understand, however, that she did work from design concepts/sketches presented to her by Marie Bankhead Owen of the Alabama Centennial Commission. As Ms. Owen was not an artist, however, the design drafts provided to Fraser were quite rudimentary and it is only through Fraser's artistic talents that the strong coin designs we are familiar with today became a reality. It was a case of woman-to-woman design work!

Note: The Alabama Statehood Centennial half dollar also holds the distinction of being the first US coin to feature the portrait of a living person, the then-current Governor of Alabama -- George Kilby. The obverse features Governor Kilby in a conjoined portrait with that of Governor William Bibb, Alabama's governor in 1819. Bibb was Alabama's first governor after it was admitted to the Union as the 22nd state on December 14, 1819; he was also the only Territory of Alabama governor, serving from March 6, 1817 to November 9, 1819. He was inaugurated as the state's first governor more than a month before the US Congress formally admitted Alabama to the Union - I wonder what official status he had during that interim time? It seems to me that Alabama was still technically a Territory at the time, so...

LGF followed up her work on the Alabama with designs for the 1922 Grant Birth Centenary coins (silver half dollar and gold $1.00), the 1925 Fort Vancouver Centennial half dollar, the 1926-39 Oregon Trail Memorial half dollar (in collaboration with her husband James Earle Fraser) and the 1999 George Washington Death Bicentennial gold Half Eagle (designs originally prepared for the 1932 George Washington quarter). She also designed the 1947 One Peso and Fifty Centavos General MacArthur commemorative coins for the newly-independent Republic of the Philippines.

1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial Half Dollar

You can learn more about the Alabama half dollar here:

- 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial, 2x2 Variety
- 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial, Plain Variety
- 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial, Coats-of-Arms Thread
- 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial - Coins with Stars Thread
- Monroe-Wilson Alalbama Half Dollar
- Coins and Medals Designed by a Woman

More of my posts about commemorative coins and medals can be found here: Read More: Commems Collection.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
04/10/2021 09:20 am
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 Posted 04/10/2021  09:20 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great write-up as usual!
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 Posted 04/10/2021  10:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PNWType to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Though not a favorite, I certainly think the Alabama half looks great, so a wonderful start for women in coinage design

It is, however, rather saddening to see that it took until 1921 to finally allow women to design coins as well, much later than I would have assumed, though a quick google search reminded that the vote for women was only ratified a year prior in 1920. Seems this coin is a product of a progressing society, so that's a silver lining
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 Posted 04/11/2021  05:55 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks commems - always appreciate you sharing.
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