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Commems Collection: 1947 Philippines Mac Arthur Commemorative Coins

 
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 Posted 08/19/2021  07:43 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
It might seem a bit odd to post about a pair of commemorative coins issued on behalf of the Philippines within the US Commemoratiive Coin forum area, but bear with me for a minute and you'll understand (hopefully) my reasoning.

The Philippine Islands were a US Territory from 1898 (post Spanish-American War) until 1935 and then a US Commonwealth from 1935 to 1946. From 1903 through 1945, mints of the United States struck coins for the Philippines. All of the US-PI coins included the inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" on their obverse (the side most collectors consider the reverse) along with either the Territorial or Commonwealth Seal.

The Philippines became a fully-independent nation on July 4, 1946. The first coins it struck as a new nation were the 1947 General Douglas MacArthur commemorative Peso and 50 Centavos coins. MacArthur was honored for his role in helping to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation during World War II. The coins were struck at the San Francisco Mint and were designed by Laura Gardin Fraser. The coins' connections to the US are multiple - US General commemorated, struck by a US Mint and designed by a US artist who had previously designed multiple US commemorative coins.

(Side Note: In addition to my focus on US commemorative coins, I also collect the US coinage struck for the Philippines. I extend my set to include these first releases by the newly-independent Philippines Republic due to their strong US history tie-in.)

The reverse of the One Peso coin features a right-facing profile portrait of MacArthur. The 50 Centavos coins also presents a right-facing portrait of MacArthur, but he is presented turned slightly forward. The obverse design on both coins is the Coat-of-Arms of the Philippines.

1947-S Philippines General Douglas MacArthur Peso and 50 Centavos



One of the most oft-heard criticisms of the two coins is their shallow relief and lack of design detail. Laura Gardin Fraser worked on the designs for the coins through much of 1947. It was relatively late in the year before they were finalized and it was not until December 1947 that the SF Mint struck the coins. I've presented images of the plaster models LGF prepared for the coins in talks I've given about the US-PI series and can state unequivocally that her models feature much more detail and depth vs. the coins that were produced. It appears certain that the relief of the models was decreased during the process that reduced the models and created the dies.

Fraser's Plaster Models for the 1947 MacArthur Peso


December 1947 was a busy month for the SF Mint. It struck 9.8 million Roosevelt dimes during the month (28% of its total 1947 output of dimes) along with 1.4 million Washington quarters (nearly 26% of the branch's 1947 total for the coin). It also struck roughly 100,000 Booker T. Washington commemorative half dollars in December.

My belief is that this high demand for circulating coinage volume caused the SF Mint to make compromises regarding the MacArthur commemorative coins. I believe it was decided to reduce the striking pressure used to produce the coins to extend die life, minimize handling time and complete the Philippines' order as quickly as possible.

Coupled with the low-relief dies, the weak striking pressure used during production created coins that do not live up to their potential. (At least IMO.) LGF can't be blamed for the final product, however, as she created well-executed, attractive designs that would have made excellent coins had time allowed for more proper handling of the Philippine Republic's first coins.

I've picked up multiple of these coins over the years, from graded gem mint state versions, to attractive, choice uncirculated two-piece sets. Shown here is one of the two-piece sets in my collection; its in a Capital Platics holder.


If you enjoyed reading about these coins, you might also find this previous US-PI commemorative coinage post of mine of interest:

- 1935 US-PI Commonwealth Commemorative Coins


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
08/19/2021 7:26 pm
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 Posted 08/19/2021  3:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for that indeed.
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 Posted 08/19/2021  8:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Amazing insight indeed commems - your supposition about the December 1947 coinage production pressures at the SF mint are a compelling argument for the low relief shown on these coins.

As always - your research coupled with unequaled writing ability contribute a tremendous value to the CCF and our collective mission of learning.

Thank you.
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 Posted 08/19/2021  11:02 pm  Show Profile   Check spruett001's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add spruett001 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have been eyeing these very coins for a couple months now, but have yet to pull the trigger.
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 Posted 08/20/2021  02:36 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for another interesting and informative post, commems.
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 Posted 08/20/2021  6:46 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@All: Thanks for the kind feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

@spruett001: It's time to pull the trigger!

@nickelsearcher: I enjoy advancing ideas about US commemorative coins (and related pieces) that I haven't previously read/encountered. In this case, I believe my reasoning behind the low-relief strike of the 1947 coins is fairly sound, especially when one sees the original models (which aren't generally posted).


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
08/20/2021 6:47 pm
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 Posted 10/19/2021  2:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add russell1256 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
is there a checklist for the US/Philippine coins?
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 Posted 10/19/2021  3:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
is there a checklist for the US/Philippine coins?

The easiest to find today would be a copy of the current Guide Book of United States Coins aka "The Red Book."

It has a section that lists all of the US-PI coinage.


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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