Throughout its active release period, the 1951-54 George Washington Carver - Booker T. Washington (BTW-GWC) half dollar series suffered from sluggish sales. The same can be said for the 1946-51 Booker T. Washington standalone series that preceded it. Sales of the coins failed to match hoped-for levels in either program, and resulted in many coins either being returned to the Mint to be melted or released into circulation at face value.
Late in 1951, to support the release of the new BTW-GWC half dollars, the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial announced the launch of a sales drive with the potential to directly benefit those local organizations who participated. The program called for the splitting of profits generated by GWC-BTW coin sales with charitable organizations that agreed to take quantities of the coin and sell them directly.
The program announcement provided a straightforward example to demonstrate how it would work: "Suppose, as a project, your group wants to raise $1,500 for a worthy local cause, such as providing a bed in a hospital, your group may realize this goal by selling 2,000 newly minted Carver-Washington coins." (2,000 coins at $0.75 profit each equals $1,500.)
The coins were to be sold for $2.00 each, which yielded a gross profit of $1.50 per coin (after the Memorial paid the Mint face value for them). The $1.50 profit would be split 50/50
with the local organization and thus enable them to raise funds for their designated cause(s). In addition to charities directly, the program was also available to social organizations and businesses if their purpose for the sales effort was to help a local charitable organization. (I wonder if this requirement was closely monitored in light of the Memorial's need to drive coin sales?)
The program was one of the drivers behind the Memorial's request for over two million BTW-GWC coins to struck at Philadelphia in 1952; it did drive sales beyond those achieved in any other year of the series.
Though it achieved some level of success, the program did not absorb all of the coins produced, and approximately 900,000 coins (estimated) were returned to the Mint to be melted. (Detailed records of which specific coins (i.e., date, mint mark) were returned to be melted were not kept by the Memorial, so only estimates can be made as to how the 1,091,198 coins that were returned (Mint Record) were divided.) 1951 George Washington Carver-Booker T. Washington Half Dollar
To learn more about the GWC-BTW commemorative half dollar, check out:
- 1951 George Washington Carver - Booker T. Washington Half Dollar
- Quick Bits #40 - 1951 George Washington Carver - Booker T. Washington Half Dollar - Launch
- 1951 Carver vs. Carver-Washington
- 1956 Booker T Washington Half Dollar #3
Other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals can be found here: Commems Collection