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US Commemorative Coin Series: Quick Bits #66 - Misunderstood Commemorative Coins

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 Posted 05/16/2022  09:15 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
There are a number of coins within the classic US commemorative coin series that were issued for one purpose, but some collectors think they mark an entirely different event.

Following are several for which I've had to personally redirect one or more collectors about the purpose of a particulare coin.

Note All instances of bolded text in the bill/Act text below was added by me for emphasis.


1918 Illinois Statehood Centennial Half Dollar


The prominent portrait of Abraham Lincoln is enough to make some collectors think the coin honors the 16th US President vs. the State of Illinois. Lincoln's close association with Illinois - much of his pre-presidency professional/political life was lived in Illinois - was the driver behind the inclusion of his image as part of the coin's designs, but the coin was most definitely issued on behalf of the State and not Lincoln himself. The coin's enacting legislation clearly states the coins were to be struck "in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the admission of the State of Illinois into the Union." (Public Law, 65-163)


1927 Battle of Bennington / Vermont Independence Sesquicentennial Half Dollar


The Benningon / Vermont half dollar is one of several coins of the classic era that is often considered a Statehood Anniversary coin vs. its true purpose. The Benningon / Vermont half dollar was issued "in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Bennington and the independence of Vermont." (Public Law 68-452) In 1775, the year being commemorated by the coin, Vermont was its own Republic, it did not become a State in the Union until March 4, 1791.


1928 Hawaiian (European) Discovery Sesquicentennial Half Dollar


More than once I've heard a collector talk about the 1928 "Hawaii Statehood" half dollar. Clearly, such collectors are not students of history! Hawaii did not become a US State until August 21, 1959, so a 1928 half dollar wasn't connected to any Hawaii Statehood celebration. The 1928 coin was struck "in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands by Captain James Cook, and for the purpose of aiding in establishing a Captain James Cook memorial collection in the archives of the Territory of Hawaii." (Public Law, 70-98) No statehood anniversary in site!


1934 Maryland Tercentenary Half Dollar


I once sat across a lunch table from a fellow collector at a coin show/convention and listened to him describe his new Maryland half dollar as a coin that celebrated Maryland's Statehood. I felt compelled to point out that the coin was marking a 300th anniversary (i.e., a tercentenary) for a very different event and that there weren't any states in 1634 - the proposed coin was struck "in commemoration of the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Province of Maryland." (Public Law, 73-215) At that show, the collector in question got a new coin and an education - always a good pairing IMO.


1934-38 Texas Independence Centennial Half Dollar


The Texas half dollar is another coin that recognizes an independent republic but is often thought of as a Statehood Anniversary coin - I've seen the mistake on web sites as well as hearing it from collectors. Texas declared its independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836; it operated as the independent "Republic of Texas" until it became a State on December 29, 1845 (the Republic formally transferred its power to the State of Texas on February 19, 1846). The coin was struck "in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary in 1936 of the independence of Texas, and of the noble and heroic sacrifices of her pioneers, whose revered memory has been an inspiration to her sons and daughters during the past century. (Public Law, 73-59) It was not issued as a Statehood Anniversary coin!


1935 Bridgeport, CT Centennial


Several collectors (and one dealer!) I've encountered, believed the 1936 Bridgeport, CT Centennial half dollar marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of Bridgeport. In reality, Bridgeport traces its foundational roots to a small of group of settlers who moved into the area in the 1660s. The coin was issued "in commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of Bridgeport, Connecticut, as a city." (Public Law,74-596) In other words, the coin marks an 1836 event, not one from the 1660s.


1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial Half Dollar


The common name for the 1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial half dollar is the "Wisconsin." With a nickname like that, it's not much of a surprise that some collectors think of the half dollar as one that marks the State of Wisconsin''s centennial. Wisconsin was established as a Territory on July 3, 1836 - it was not a State in 1836. Wisconsin attained Statehood on May 29, 1848. The half dollar's enacting legislation states that the coins were to be struck "in commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Territorial Government of Wisconsin, and to assist in the celebration of the Wisconsin Centennial during the year of 1936." (Public Law, 74-593) (Wisconsin tried for a Statehood coin in 1948, but it didn't pass Congress. Check out my What If? story on it if you'd like to learn more.)


There are likely others, but those are ones I have personal experience with. What can you add from your experiences?


You can find my previous posts on each of the coins discussed above here:

- Commems Collection (There are multiple on each.)



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 05/16/2022  09:35 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Always read your threads with my first cup of coffee!
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 Posted 05/16/2022  2:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
What can you add from your experiences?


There are quite a few other members of the classic commemorative series that could potentially be misunderstood as to their actual original intentions.

While you could have easily included these commems, I do appreciate your kindness in keeping the door open for additional contributions.

I have not done the research to be able to cite enabling legislation language - so I'm basing my contributions on what a modern collector might assume versus the original commemorative intention.

And - it gives me an opportunity to show off a few of my treasured circulated commemorative examples.

1935 Connecticut Tercentenary Half ( PCGS VF25)



Commonly referred to as the Connecticut Half this coin could be misunderstood to commemorative Connecticut statehood. Rather the coin was authorized to celebrate the 300th anniversary for the founding of the colony of Connecticut, an event that occurred in 1635 as depicted by the dual dates 1635-1935 that appear at the bottom edge of the coins obverse (tree side).

1935/1936 California - Pacific International Exposition Half ( PCGS VF20)



Commonly referred to as the San Diego half practically no collector or dealer refers to this coin by it's proper name California-Pacific International Exposition Half. I suspect that if you asked to view a coin using that name you might get a few head scratches.

The exposition occurred in San Diego's Balboa Park in 1935/1936 so the coin was issued as contemporary commemorative for sale at the exposition grounds for $1 each.

1936 Albany (NY) Charter Half ( PCGS VG10)



Commonly referred to as the Albany Half this coin could be misunderstood to represent the founding of the city.

This coin commemorates the 250th anniversary of the granting of a charter to the city of Albany, NY in 1686. Talk about an event of trivial local significance that was successful in being granted a national coin!

Despite it's local significance, I do enjoy the beaver and the smallest example of the statutory required legend LIBERTY ever found on a US coin.

1936 Delaware Tercentenary Half ( PCGS G06)



Similar to examples discussed above, this coin could be misunderstood to commemorate the anniversary of Delaware statehood and is commonly referred to as the Delaware Half.

It in fact commemorates the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Swedes in Delaware aboard the ship Kalmar Nyckel which is represented on the coins reverse.

There are several others that we could discuss. With acknowledgment of commems willingness to leave the door open for additional contributions I follow that example and pass the torch to any other CCF member who would enjoy contributing to this thread.

edit for spllneging
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Edited by nickelsearcher
05/16/2022 2:58 pm
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 Posted 05/16/2022  6:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
There are quite a few other members of the classic commemorative series that could potentially be misunderstood as to their actual original intentions.

Absolutely true!

Quote:
...keeping the door open for additional contributions.

I always appreciate constructive engagement by others! Thanks!

Quote:
I have not done the research to be able to cite enabling legislation language

I happen to have them all handy - happy to help!

1935 Connecticut: "authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Colony of Connecticut." (Public Law, 73-446)

1935-36 California-Pacific Exposition: "authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in connection with the California-Pacific International Exposition to be held in San Diego, California, in 1935 and 1936." (Public Law, 74-50)

1936 Albany, NY Charter: "authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the city of Albany, New York." (Public Law, 74-637)

1936 (38) Delaware Tercentenary: "authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of the landing of the Swedes in Delaware." (Public Law 74-91)


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 05/16/2022  6:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Always read your threads with my first cup of coffee!

Nice to hear! Thanks!





Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
05/16/2022 10:17 pm
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 Posted 05/17/2022  06:04 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I happen to have them all handy - happy to help!


There is not a single person who reads this forum that is one bit surprised by this statement commems. After all - there is only one CCF Master Historian of USA Commemorative Coins.
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 Posted 05/17/2022  09:35 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

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After all - there is only one CCF Master Historian of USA Commemorative Coins.
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 Posted 05/17/2022  5:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add NumisEd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
In defence of the "noobs", a commemorative coin should clearly depict the event it commemorates IMO. Most often, a portrait of "some guy" does not.
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 Posted 05/17/2022  5:58 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@NumisEd: You've mentioned something similar multiple times here on CCF in various threads. I can appreciate your view, but I still don't agree.

The best coin designs are often those that are not literal depictions. IMO, there's nothing wrong with learning about what you are looking at before you fully understand its significance. Learning is always a good thing!

The "noobs" that you mention are only new for a short time - a coin remains a coin for much longer.




Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
05/17/2022 6:04 pm
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 Posted 05/17/2022  8:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add NumisEd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@commems,

There actually is potential for EVERY commemorative to be misunderstood. Even modern commemoratives.
Let's take the 1999 Georgia State Quarter for example. Instead of commemorating Georgia, people might confuse it by assuming it commemorates growing peaches. Or perhaps instead of commemorating Delaware, people might think we are commemorating Caesar Rodney and his 49th birthday.

This actually could be a completely new and fun CCF game: Pick a commemorative and come up with a possible other event that it could commemorate, taking into account the date and description of the coin.
Edited by NumisEd
05/17/2022 8:05 pm
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 Posted 05/18/2022  10:12 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Let's take the 1999 Georgia State Quarter for example.
Statehood quarters are not commemorative coins.

http://goccf.com/t/138491
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 Posted 05/18/2022  11:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add NumisEd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Statehood quarters are not commemorative coins.


Well, we can still play the game of "Find an alternative to commemorate".


Quote:
1918 Illinois Statehood Centennial Half Dollar


I did not mention this before, but it is pretty hilarious that PCGS labels the coin with "LINCOLN", whereas the coin itself commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the admission of the State of Illinois into the Union.
Perhaps PCGS should have labeled the coin "ILLINOIS". Less confusion that way.
Edited by NumisEd
05/18/2022 11:03 am
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 Posted 05/18/2022  12:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Well, we can still play the game of "Find an alternative to commemorate".
It could be fun.


Quote:
... it is pretty hilarious that PCGS labels the coin with "LINCOLN", whereas the coin itself commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the admission of the State of Illinois into the Union. Perhaps PCGS should have labeled the coin "ILLINOIS". Less confusion that way.
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 Posted 05/18/2022  10:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
it is pretty hilarious that PCGS labels the coin with "LINCOLN", whereas the coin itself commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the admission of the State of Illinois into the Union.

Don't blame PCGS! It uses the common/popular nickname for each commemorative coin on its holder - it's often abbreviated out of necessity due to space limitations. "Lincoln" has been in use by dealers and collectors as the nickname for the Illinois Statehood half dollar since the mid- to late-1920s - ~60 years before PCGS graded its first Illinois Statehood half dollar!


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