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Commems Collection: What If? 1937 Constitution Sesquicentennial

 
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 Posted 01/21/2022  07:46 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
The recent question about specific dates on US commemorative coins got me thinking, and caused me to go through some drafts of posts I had "on file" - I recalled writing about a coin that was to include a specific date, I just couldn't remember which coin it was. It took a bit of digging, but eventually...


In 1936, to help mark the upcoming sesquicentennial of the adoption of the US Constitution in 1937, a bill was introduced into the House for a special commemorative half-dollar. As the bill did not have enough time to work through Congress before it adjourned for the year, essentially the same bill was introduced by Representative Marcellus Evans of New York on the first day of the 81st Congress in 1937; it was immediately referred to the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate a week later.

The bill proposed a commemorative coin "in order to indicate and demonstrate the interest and loyalty of the Government of the United States to the Constitution of the United States, to establish and foster a timely campaign of education and veneration of the same, and to provide the people of the United States with an appropriate commemorative of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of their Constitution."

The interesting wrinkle of this bill was the fact that it proposed a circulating half-dollar to be coined rather than the typical "collector-only" commemorative coin that was the norm of the day. The coin was to be dated "1937" and during that year would have replaced the standard half-dollar (the Walking Liberty design). Its mintage would not have been capped and it could have been struck at one or multiple of the Mint's facilities at the discretion of the Director of the Mint.

The coin's design was to "relate to the Constitution or its adoption" and "include there-on, in addition to all other matters now required by law, the date of September 17, 1787." (Emphasis added.)

The bill, unfortunately, never made it out of the Committee to which it was referred, and so the nation was deprived of what I believe would have been a wonderful, historically significant commemorative coin. I think it would have made a great companion piece to the 1926 Independence Sesquicentennial coins which recalled the Declaration of Independence.

Multiple privately-struck medals were issued for the Constitution's Sesquicentennial, but no US Government legal tender; multiple designs were struck by Whitehead and Hoag of Newark, NJ.

At least everything came together for the Constitution's 200th anniversary!

1987 US Constitution Bicentennial Gold Half Eagle - Note the Specific Date on Reverse


1987 US Constitution Bicentennial Silver Dollar



For a look at a Philatelic-Numismatic Cover featuring the 1987 Constitution Silver Dollar, check out:

- 1987 US Constitution Bicentennial PNC



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
01/21/2022 07:49 am
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 Posted 01/21/2022  08:41 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for that!
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 Posted 01/21/2022  10:48 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting!

I wonder how having this as a circulating commemorative would have affected the bicentennial coins...

It would have set a precedent by replacing (not altering) the WLH that year. Using that guideline, could we have had different obverse designs for the bicentennial coins?

Hard to make an argument for removing Washington, but JFK and Ike would have been fair game!

For what it is worth, I cannot imagine not having the bicentennial Ikes!
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 Posted 01/21/2022  2:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Erscolo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very informative, but the last thing the depression era United States needed was yet another commemorative coin. This would have been a much better choice than the ones that got through, but Congress was no better in 1936-1937 than in 2022.
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 Posted 01/21/2022  3:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great story commems, many thanks

We can include the 1987 gold half eagle as a member of the commemorative coins that bear a specific date, joining the three silver halves discussed in your other thread.

My view is that a one year circulating half dollar issued in 1937 would have been an appropriate way to honor the 150th anniversary, alas it did not happen.
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 Posted 01/24/2022  06:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
My view is that a one year circulating half dollar issued in 1937 would have been an appropriate way to honor the 150th anniversary, alas it did not happen.

I absolutely agree! It was definitely a missed opportunity to celebrate a seminal event in US history.


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