And now for something completely different.
Included as part of the commemorative coin program to mark the 50th anniversary of World War II were a number of atypical product offerings. The US Mint offered a key chain for each of the denominations (50 cents, $1 and $5) plus an acrylic paperweight which encased an uncirculated CuNi clad half dollar.
The obverse of the half dollar features the faces of three members of the US military (two men, one woman), superimposed over a large "V" for "Victory." Above the figures is seen a World War II era bomber surmounted by five stars. The bomber appears to be a Boeing B-29 Superfortress used by the US Army Air Force, though it is not specifically identified by the Mint.
The five stars above it would seem to be a reference to the highest US military rank of five stars; the rank was created during WWII, in 1944, and is generally a war time rank; it was retired in 1981 with the death of Omar Bradley. The rank was used by the Army, Navy and Air Force. Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy was the first to achieve the five-star rank (December 15, 1944); General of the Army George Marshall was promoted to the five-star rank the following day (December 16, 1944).
Generals Douglas MacArthur (December 18, 1944), Dwight David Eisenhower (December 20, 1944) and Henry Arnold (December 21, 1944) each attained the Army five-star rank during WWII; General Omar Bradley achieved the rank on December 20, 1950. Henry Arnold was also awarded the five-star rank as the General of the Air Force; he was the only person to achieve the rank in two military branches.
In addition to Admiral Leahy, the following men also were promoted to Fleet Admiral with a five-star ranking: Ernest King (December 17. 1944), Chester Nimitz (December 19, 1944) and William Halsey, Jr. (December 11, 1945).
The central figure of the coin's reverse is a US serviceman (Army or Marine Corps) crawling with his gun at the ready on the beach of a Pacific Ocean island. In the background is seen a pair of landing craft bringing more soldiers to the beach and a Navy warship (it appears to be a light cruiser); overhead is a fighter plane (its wings suggest that it is a carrier-based Vought F4U Corsair).
The coin's obverse was designed by George Klauba; its reverse was the work of Bill J. Leftwich.
The paperweight came in a white US Mint box along with a Certificate of Authenticity for an Uncirculated Clad Half Dollar and a small info sheet on "Cleaning Acrylic" which provided care instructions for maintaining a clean and brilliant paperweight. Within the paperweight, in addition to the coin, is a thin metal plate that features "WWII 50th Anniversary" / "Clad Half Dollar" printed on two lines on the side paired with the coin's obverse and "United States" / "Mint" with a US Mint/Treasury Seal on the plate's back (coin's reverse).
Per Mint Reports, 9,601 paperweights were sold, thus making it a relatively popular, if non-traditional numismatic item.
For more posts about commemorative coins and medals, check out: Read More: Commems Collection
.* Very old Monty Python reference.