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Commems Collection: What If? 1948 Wisconsin Statehood Centennial

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 Posted 09/18/2021  8:27 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Nearly all of the western US states transitioned from being a territory to becoming a state. Some attempted to secure commemorative coins for milestone anniversaries of the establishment of each. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, for example, each had individual bills introduced in the US Congress that for their Territorial and Statehood statuses. Minnesota struck out completely, while Iowa and Wisconsin went one for two (though in opposite order).

In May 1936, the bill calling for a commemorative half dollar to mark the 100th anniversary of the formal "establishment of the Territorial Government of Wisconsin" became law, and the Coinage Committee of the private Wisconsin Centennial, Inc. had their coin.

In 1947, as the 1948 Wisconsin statehood centennial anniversary approached, the State of Wisconsin (vs. a private sponsor) attempted to secure a commemorative half dollar from the US Congress to help pay for its planned centennial celebrations. The House and Senate each supported the proposed legislation. Companion bills were introduced in the House and Senate, but, as the House bill proceeded through the process more quickly, the Senate put aside its bill and considered and passed the House bill. A key difference between the two bills was the number of coins to be authorized - the House bill called for up to 500,000 while the Senate bill limited coinage to 100,000.

After being passed by both chambers, the bill was sent to President Harry S. Truman on July 19. 1947; Truman vetoed the bill less than two weeks later on July 31, 1947. In his veto, Truman referenced his previous statements regarding his preference for commemorative medals vs. coins and indicated the problem he would have if he approved any one coin bill considering how many others were pending in Congress. Truman also restated the Treasury Department's long-held belief that "the multiplicity of designs on United States coins resulting from the coinage of commemorative coins tends to create confusion, to increase the possibility of counterfeiting, to encourage traffic in commemorative coins for private profit, and, in general, to distract from the fundamental purpose for which money is issued, namely, to provide a medium of exchange." Time, and the various US circulating quarter programs, have demonstrated that such concerns were largely unfounded and that only the "private profit" issue was real.

So, Wisconsin's attempt to "double dip" in the commemorative pool ended with disappointment as it was blocked at the final step on its road to securing a Statehood Centennial coin. Considering the US commemorative coin environment at the time (a clearly "anti" commemorative coin one), it's a little surprising that the proposal even made it to the president's desk vs. being stopped in Congress.

(Follow-up Note: My comment above about Iowa and Wisconsin going one for two in opposite order refers to Iowa failing at its attempt to get a coin for its 1938 Territorial Centennial but getting a coin for its 1946 Statehood Centennial, while Wisconsin succeeded in getting a Territorial Centennial coin for 1936 but not a Statehood Centennial piece for 1948.)

1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial Half Dollar

You can read more about the Wisconsin Territory Centennial half dollar here:

- 1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial
- 1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial - Revisited
- 1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial - Coins With Hands Thread
- 1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial - Coins With Flora Thread

Note: The first three posts linked above use the common current thinking regarding obverse/reverse. The side designation included in the fourth post is in line with the official description per the US Mint.

To read a bit more about the proposed Iowa Territory half dollar, see:

- What If? 1938 Iowa Territory Centennial

My posts about other commemorative coins are found here: Read More: Commems Collection.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 09/19/2021  10:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
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 Posted 09/20/2021  12:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting!

As a former (brief) resident of the Badger State, I will keep additional comments to myself.
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 Posted 09/21/2021  05:47 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

to encourage traffic in commemorative coins for private profit

True that and IMHO Truman saw it correctly back in his time.

Thanks for sharing commems.
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