Soon after I joined CCF back in 2011, I began posting about my favorite coin series - US commemorative coins. My early posts tended to be rather brief, however, and didn't go into the detail of my later posts. My look at the 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial half dollar falls into this category - a brief initial post without much history about the coin. So, as I've done with a few other coins, I've decided to go back and present another look at the second of the statehood anniversary coins.
A proposal for the coin was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative John Andrew Peters (R-ME) in February 1920. Peters' bill called for silver half dollars "in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the admission of the State of Maine into the Union." Peters was serving in the fourth of his five terms in the House. The bill called for the striking of 100,000 coins.
Upon its introduction, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures; the Committee scheduled a Hearing for the coin proposal. At the brief Hearing, Peters noted that his bill was essentially a duplicate of the bill for the Illinois Statehood Centennial half dollar and that it ensured that the coins would be produced at no net cost to the Government.
It was revealed at the Hearing that neither the Mint nor the Department of the Treasury had any objections to the coinage bill, and that both had given the coin their approval. The Committee sent a Report back to the House stating its support for the bill. The Report concluded with: "The committee believes this to be a suitable and desirable way of recognizing an important historical event, and unanimously recommends the passage of the bill." (House Report 756)
In the House, the bill was subject to minor debate with three different Representatives rising to ask one or more questions. The questions asked were, IMO, a bit strange. The first came form Representative John Quillin Tilson (R-CT) who inquired whether the coins would replace standard circulating 50-cent pieces and whether any difficulties were anticipated in securing the needed silver for the coins. Mr. Peters assured him that the coins would not be a replacement for the regular-issue half dollars and that obtaining the needed silver was not anticipated to be a problem.
The next question was posed by Representative John Franklin Miller (R-WA); he inquired about whether the US Government was to bear the expense of preparing the dies for the coin. Mr. Peters repeated what he had stated in his opening comments: the State of Maine would bear all costs.
Representative Warren Gard (D-OH) then rose to ask the strangest of the questions. He seemed to consider the coins something to be used only during the Maine anniversary and so wondered if any provisions for redemption of the coins after the celebrations were over had been made. Peters explained that the coins would "continue to roam" after the anniversary celebrations had ended (along with regular-issue half dollars) and that no special redemption programs needed to be in place. The Q&A exchange made me wonder if Representative Gard had read the bill and understood what "legal tender" meant.
After some additional brief and unimportant discussion, the bill was considered and passed without objection. After this, the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency issued a favorable report on the coin proposal that stated it believed the Senate should concur with the House and pass the bill. The Senate did so without issue and the bill was sent off to President Woodrow Wilson for approval; Wilson signed the bill into law on May 10, 1920.
The coin's obverse design features a reasonably faithful rendering of the Maine State Seal. (For more details on the Seal, see the link below.)
The coin's reverse is a simple design with a central commemorative inscription encircled by a wreath of pine branches with pine coins. (For more details about Maine's pine tree connection, see the Flora Thread link below.)
Anthony de Francisci sculpted the models for the coin from design sketches by Maine artist Harry Cochrane. Unfortunately, multiple references still list de Francisci as the designer.1920 Maine Statehood Centennial Half Dollar
I've posted multiple times about the Maine half dollar, here are a few to check out:
- 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial
- 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial - Revisited <<< Seldom Seen Ephemera
- Official Seals on Classic Commemorative Coins - 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial
- Coins Depicting Flora Thread - 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial
- Coins With Hands Thread - 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial
To read other posts on commemorative coins and medals, check out: Read More: Commems Collection