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Commems Collection: Wayte Raymond Illustrated Price List Of Commemorative Half Dollars

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 Posted 01/24/2022  06:32 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Back in the mid-1930s, there weren't many reference books for the US commemorative coin series, there was Howland Wood's out-of-date 1922 volume, Commemorative Coinage of the United States, and that's about it in terms of dedicated volumes. The next noteworthy, series-specific publication would be David Bullowa's The Commemorative Coinage of the United States which was published in 1938.

Collectors of the time had to make do with dealer price lists, advertisements in hobby publications such as the American Numismatic Association's The Numismatist magazine and limited sections in the rudimentary guide books of the day.

In the early 1930s, Raymond began publishing the Standard Price List of United States Coins which listed and illustrated US copper, silver and gold coins of all series. The prices listed were the selling prices of the coins at Scott Stamp and Coin Company, the coin firm for which Raymond served as Manager of the Numismatics Department.

In 1935, Wayte Raymond stepped beyond a simple price list for the commemorative series and published The Commemorative Half Dollars of the United States - An Illustrated Price List. A separate, multi-page, bound price list dedicated to the US commemorative series was something new for the marketplace. Within its pages, the price list provided photographic images of each coin type along with some basic descriptive information regarding its design; the coin's designer was also listed. At essentially the same time, Raymond added a US commemorative section to his annual Standard Price List; the SPL had abbreviated content with just the year, coin name and selling price listed.

The Standard Price List publication was developed alongside the Standard Catalogue of United States coins and Currency, a hard-back book that was first published in 1933 ("1934 Edition") and continued its annual publication into the 1950s. (It was later (beginning with 1940 edition) retitled to Standard Catalogue of United States coins and Tokens with an accompanying change in content focus.) The Standard Catalogue was the leading guide to US coins at the time, providing year-by-year listings, design descriptions, illustrations, mintage information and value information.

The Standard Catalogue was the forerunner to The Guide Book of United States Coins (aka the " Red Book"); it ceased publication soon after Wayte Raymond's death in 1956; the "1957 Edition" was the last.

Here are a few pages from 1935's Illustrated Price List to provide a sense of the coverage provided for each commemorative coin. The booklet's coverage begins with the 1892 World's Columbian Exposition half dollar and extends through the 1935 Boone Bicentennial coin and the 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary half dollar. My copy certainly isn't pristine, but it took me some time to find one so I am content with it (but always on the look out for a nicer example!).

As you review the simple listings of the Illustrated Price List, keep in mind the time of its publication. The US commemorative series had not yet exploded in popularity among collectors and coin references, in general, were no where near as comprehensive as today's publications.


Wayte Raymond's Illustrated Price List for US Commemorative Half Dollars - Front Cover



Wayte Raymond's Illustrated Price List for US Commemorative Half Dollars - First Page of Coin Listings



Wayte Raymond's Illustrated Price List[/i] for US Commemorative Half Dollars - Last Page of Coin Listings



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 Posted 01/24/2022  06:45 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting and fun information there. The PanPac is a comparative bargain today.

Any surprises and/or insights in your opinion that can be gleaned from the guide?
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 Posted 01/24/2022  07:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Any surprises and/or insights in your opinion that can be gleaned from the guide?

That everything has a beginning, even if a simple one?

In terms of its content, the market price differential between the Plain variety of the 1922 US Grant half dollar and the w/ Star variety appears to have been established early. In the Price List, the Plain is listed at $2.00, while the w/Star is listed at $12.50 - a 6X multiple. Today's price differentials can easily exceed this multiple for higher-grade MS coins.

Other coins with early premiums that continue today are the 1921 Missouri varieties ($10.00 Plain, $7.50, 2x4) and the 1928 Hawaiian (European) Discovery Sesquicentennial at $10.00. The early list seemed to already have had a good handle on "common" vs. "somewhat scarce."






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Edited by commems
01/24/2022 07:32 am
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 Posted 01/24/2022  09:03 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting. I assume the prices are for uncirculated examples?
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 Posted 01/24/2022  09:28 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I assume the prices are for uncirculated examples?

You assume correctly, sir.

The inside front cover of the booklet states: "All commemorative half dollars offered in this list are in bright new condition, never circulated."


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Edited by commems
01/24/2022 09:30 am
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 Posted 01/24/2022  09:47 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add NumisEd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Why would anyone pay $1.50 for a 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar the same year the guide came out? It's like paying $1.50 for a 2022 Kennedy half dollar.
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 Posted 01/24/2022  10:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

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Why would anyone pay $1.50 for a 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar the same year the guide came out? It's like paying $1.50 for a 2022 Kennedy half dollar.

How do you figure?

The 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary half dollar was not released into circulation at face value. Those who wanted one had to purchase it from the Connecticut Tercentenary Commission or a dealer.

The Commission charged $1.00 each plus postage/handling (to collectors and dealers). So, it's not surprising to see a dealer charge a little more than the Commission for the coins it offered.



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 Posted 01/24/2022  1:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for sharing this information commems.

It's always instructive to read the perspectives of collectors from the 1930's when the study of classic commemoratives was not well documented and collector reference information was difficult to come by.


Quote:
The next noteworthy, series-specific publication would be David Bullowa's The Commemorative Coinage of the United States which was published in 1938.


I'm curious, given the general lack of published reference material in the day, why you do not consider the 1937 pamphlet titled The Commemorative Coins of the United States by B. Max Mehl as a noteworthy publication in this context?

In the pamphlet he provides a page of description, along with obverse and reverse photographs, mintage data and original issue price for every classic silver and gold commemorative issued through January 1, 1937. He also highlights a preview of the five upcoming issues authorized but not yet minted. It seems to me that a collector in early 1937 would have been satisfied with the information presented.

I don't recall how I obtained the pamphlet, but it's likely a commonly available publication even today.

Analogous to your Wayte Raymond 1936 price guide, the Mehl publication does a reasonable job of beginning to identify the coins that we eventually would come to know as key dates.

It's instructive, and occasionally ironic, to read some of the self-serving commentary such as the following excerpt for the notorious origin and distribution for the profitable benefit of L.W. Hoffecker for the Old Spanish Trail half:

"The issue was prompted, fathered, and nursed by a very able numismatist who also managed its fair distribution."

Of course, Mehl himself was not known as a leading ethical light in his various dealings with the classic commemorative coins.

I'd consider starting a thread discussing some of the highlights and insights from the 1937 Mehl publication - unless commems you already have notes of a thread started in which case I prefer to defer to the master!
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Edited by nickelsearcher
01/24/2022 1:40 pm
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 Posted 01/24/2022  2:50 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting! It is nice to get more details of Raymond's work.

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 Posted 01/24/2022  3:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@nickelsearcher:

The reason I don't elevate Mehl's volume to the level of Howland Wood's or David Bullowa's comes down to a matter of scholarship. While Mehl does provide a range of core information about each coin type of the series, I've never been able to take his highly-opinionated copy seriously.

Of course, I've had a copy of his booklet in my collection for years, and have read through it on multiple occasions, but it never even crosses my mind when I need to look up a something for which I need a trusted source. Mehl's tactics in promoting his coin business - and the somewhat dubious lengths to which he sometimes went to do so - have created a skeptical eye for me when it comes to Mehl. Your "self-serving commentary"comment sums things up nicely for me.

I think it's a fun little book, and one I would encourage collectors of the series to seek it out. I just will never consider it a serious/trustworthy reference source.


Quote:
I'd consider starting a thread discussing some of the highlights and insights from the 1937 Mehl publication

I look forward to reading it!



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 Posted 01/24/2022  3:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Also, you might recall another reference work from the early period of the commemorative series that I covered a few months back:

- A Quick Look At Green's Mint Record And Type Table


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 Posted 01/24/2022  6:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

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While Mehl does provide a range of core information about each coin type of the series, I've never been able to take his highly-opinionated copy seriously.


@commems - well said and I absolutely concur with your position, from the perspective of a 2022 collector looking backwards in time 85 years to 1937.

I also suggest that we are in agreement on the modern day value of Mehl publication - although I do wish to explain a differing position from the perspective of a 1937 collector.

There is no question that the rigid scholarship available today - of which you are the shining and beloved example - renders Mehl publication trivial and almost comical in parts.

I'm not advocating a position that Mehl pamphlet remains today a scholary reference ... I'm suggesting that you put yourself into the shoes of Ma & Pa Kettle living in Pocatello ID in say March 1937.

My imagined Ma & Pa Kettle are dedicated collectors of the commemorative coins - and likely feeling abused by the 1936 issues. They are seeking any possible information on what's next in the whirlwind of the 1936 commemorative issues.

In the context I've just described - which was reality for many/most collectors of the day, I suggest that the January 1937 publication of Mehl pamphlet was a welcome read for many.

In that regard I consider Mehl work to be a key element of documenting the history of our beloved series - notwithstanding the obvious fact that in todays light of day it is shown to be a trivial and self-serving publication.


Quote:
I look forward to reading it!


Don't hold your breath LOL
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Edited by nickelsearcher
01/24/2022 6:57 pm
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 Posted 01/24/2022  7:58 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add macmercury to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
By today's inflation standard, it would be a bargain obtaining some of these coins in uncirculated condition.

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 Posted 01/24/2022  8:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add fortcollins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The Florida dealer I've mentioned before (Hubert Carcaba) published price lists in the 1930s, as well. If I ever go through the boxes in my basement, I'm sure I have some. He had hundreds of rolls of Hudson halves and always tried to sell rolls of them at shows. I'm sure his advertised price was high enough to make his show offers look like a bargain.
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 Posted 01/24/2022  11:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Winesteven to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Question by @NumisEd: Why would anyone pay $1.50 for a 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar the same year the guide came out? It's like paying $1.50 for a 2022 Kennedy half dollar.



Quote:
Reply by @Commems: The 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary half dollar was not released into circulation at face value. Those who wanted one had to purchase it from the Connecticut Tercentenary Commission or a dealer.

The Commission charged $1.00 each plus postage/handling (to collectors and dealers). So, it's not surprising to see a dealer charge a little more than the Commission for the coins it offered.


NumisEd, you're always looking for a bargain, lol. I like that!

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 Posted 01/25/2022  08:46 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add NumisEd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

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NumisEd, you're always looking for a bargain, lol. I like that!


I had the brief impression that you could have gone to the bank and got a "roll of Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollars" for face value. But I guess not.
Seems to me the Connecticut Tercentenary Commission operated in the same way as the US Mint does now: charge sky high prices for (semi-)bullion products.
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