As I note at the start of each of these "Melting Pot" posts, I've written multiple times about the subject coin(s) - this time the California-Pacific International Exposition - "San Diego" - Half Dollars - and prefer not to repeat too much of those previous posts here, so check out the links below for my previous posts on the topic coin(s) which provide more detail about the Exposition, the coins themselves and the involvement of the US Congress that brought about their creation.
The California-Pacific International Exposition coin program was a two-year program, with coins struck at San Francisco in 1935 and Denver in 1936. The program paralleled the two operating seasons of the Exposition (held in San Diego, California): May 29 through November 11, 1935 and February 12 through September 9, 1936.
The "San Diego" coins represent the only two-year program in the classic series in which a different Mint facility was used in each year. Such multiple-mint programs were generally either single-year (i.e., P-D-S sets) or of a duration extending four or more years (the Oregon Trail Memorial, the Texas Independence Centennial and the BTW-GWC programs are three examples). Other two-year programs include the 1892-93 World's Columbian Exposition - Columbus Half Dollar and the 1920-21 Landing of the Pilgrims Tercentenary Half Dollar. With each of these programs, the coins were struck in the same Mint facility (Philadelphia) each year. (The same can be said for the 1904-05 Lewis and Clark Exposition Gold Dollars and the 1916-17 William McKinley Memorial Gold Dollars.)
Public Law 74-50 (May 3, 1935) authorized the striking of up to 250,000 silver half dollars for the benefit of the California-Pacific International Exposition Company ("Company"). At the time of its passage, the Law was not intended as authorization for a multi-year coin program.
The US Mint struck all 250,000 of the coins authorized in San Francisco during August 1935. Sales, however, were sluggish and amounted to less than 70,000 by the time the Exposition closed in November 1935. The Company lobbied Congress for authorization to return unsold 1935-dated coins in exchange for newly-minted 1936-dated issues. Public Law 74-566 (May 6, 1936) granted such authorization.
A total of 180,000 of the 1935-S coins were returned to the Mint to be melted and re-coined; ~2,000 1935-dated coins were held back by the Company to be available for sale in 1936. In June 1936, Denver struck 180,000 1936-D half dollars (plus assay coins) for the Company. Sales of the 1936 coins fared little better than the 1935 coins, however, and 150,000 of the 1936-D coins were ultimately returned to the Mint to be melted. The net mintage of the 1935-S coin was ~70,000, with ~30,000 for the 1936-D. To produce this net of ~100,000 coins, the Mint struck 430,000 coins and melted 330,000 of them - not the most efficient business model, but not its fault - the Mint was just following the Laws as established by Congress.
ICYWW: The 1935-D half dollars were sold at $1.00 each; the 1936-D coins had an issue price of $1.50 each.1935-S California-Pacific International Exposition Half Dollar
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including more on the "San Diego" half dollars, see: Commems Collection.
For a list of posts specifically about the Design Details of the 1935-36 California-Pacific International Exposition Half Dollars, see:
- Design Discussions - 1935-36 California-Pacific International Exposition / "San Diego"