US Early Silver Commemorative Coins

Posted by on April 14, 2012
1926 Oragon Trail

1926 Oregon Trail

The US Early Silver Commemorative Coins refers to the United States non-circulating silver coins sold above denominational value to collectors to raise funds for various public causes minted from 1892 to 1954. There were fifty different silver coin designs created during these years commemorating various significant events, places, and people for the United States of America. Many of the designs were struck for more than one year and some were struck at different mints which brings the total to 144 distinct coins to collect. The success of these was great enough that nine gold commemorative coin designs were also minted.

US Coins NICE 1893 90% Silver Columbian Commemorative Half Dollar H496
US Coins NICE 1893 90% Silver Columbian Commemorative Half Dollar H496
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 Girl Scouts 925 Fine Silver Heraldic Art UNC GEM Coin w/ Envelope - 72995
Girl Scouts 925 Fine Silver Heraldic Art UNC GEM Coin w/ Envelope - 72995
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1946 USA Booker T Washington Half Dollar Silver Coin
1946 USA Booker T Washington Half Dollar Silver Coin
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1893 Columbian Exposition Commemorative U.S. Silver Half Dollar
1893 Columbian Exposition Commemorative U.S. Silver Half Dollar
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1893 Silver Half Dollar Chicago Worlds Fair Columbian Exposition Expo Coin
1893 Silver Half Dollar Chicago Worlds Fair Columbian Exposition Expo Coin
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1776 OFFICIAL BICENTENNIAL DAY SILVER  COIN  WITH COA
1776 OFFICIAL BICENTENNIAL DAY SILVER COIN WITH COA
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1925 STONE MOUNTAIN COMMEMORATIVE SILVER HALF DOLLAR COIN 50c
1925 STONE MOUNTAIN COMMEMORATIVE SILVER HALF DOLLAR COIN 50c
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1920 PILGRIM TERCENTENARY COMMEMORATIVE 90% SILVER HALF DOLLAR COIN
1920 PILGRIM TERCENTENARY COMMEMORATIVE 90% SILVER HALF DOLLAR COIN
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1936 50c Long Island Commemorative Silver Half Dollar
1936 50c Long Island Commemorative Silver Half Dollar
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These US Early Silver Commemorative Coins were all struck on blanks of 90% silver and 10% copper have and a reeded edge. Some of the designs are plentiful enough that lower grades of these designs are sold as ‘junk’ silver. Some designs also were intentional and others unintentionally circulated and these may also be found as ‘junk’ silver.

1920 Pilgrim/Mayflower Half Dollar

1920 Pilgrim/Mayflower Half Dollar

Otherwise most US Early Silver Commemorative Coins are typically available and collected in Mint State conditions. “GEM” state coins, which are those of MS66 or higher, are best for long term investments and sought by the serious collector. It was common practice that the commemorative coins that were not sold would be taken back to the mint, melted down, and the silver used later. Forty-eight of these silver coins designs are half-dollars all of which are 30.6 millimeters in diameter, weigh 12.50 grams or a net silver content weight of 0.36169 troy ounces.

1892 Columbian Exposition Half Dollar

1892 Columbian Exposition Half Dollar

The first of the US Early Silver Commemorative Coins is the Columbian Half Dollar struck in 1892 for the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World. It was released at the Chicago World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition. The World’s Fair was intended to open in time for Columbus’ landing date of October 10th, but various construction and other situations caused the exposition not to open until 1893. There were 950,000 Columbian Half Dollar coins sold in 1892 and 1,550,405 in 1893 for one dollar each. About one hundred Proof coins were also sold for each year. One hundred years later in 1992 the US Mint designed and struck a 500th Anniversary Columbus Modern Commemorative Coin series consisting of a silver dollar, a silver half dollar and a five dollar gold coin.

Isabella Columbian exposition commemorative quarter dollar  obverse

Isabella Columbian exposition commemorative quarter dollar obverse

Isabella Columbian exposition commemorative quarter dollar reverse

Isabella Columbian exposition commemorative quarter dollar reverse

The one quarter released had the head of the Spanish Queen Isabella on it. This was also released for the Columbian Exposition in 1893 and 24,124 were sold. These silver quarters are 24.3 millimeters in diameter and weigh 6.25 grams having a net silver content of 0.18084 troy ounces. Women’s suffrage had gained significant momentum by this time and Susan B. Anthony had successfully lobbied both the US House and Senate to allow women to have a role in the Chicago World’s Fair. There was a Women’s Building at the Columbian Exposition which women were allowed to run Women oriented programs. The Isabella quarters were sold there for one dollar each.

1925 Lexington Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar

1925 Lexington Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar

In 1900 the Lafayette Silver Commemorative Dollar was released. This was the only silver dollar released of the US Early Silver Commemorative Coins. These silver dollars were 38.1 millimeters in diameter, weighing 26.73 grams, having a net silver content of 0.77344 troy ounces. A total of 36,026 were sold for two dollars each.

1925 Stone Mountain Half Dollar

1925 Stone Mountain Half Dollar

The last of the US Early Silver Commemorative Coins is the George Washington Carver Half Dollar. These also have a portrait of Booker T Washington who had appeared by himself on the earlier commemorative silver coin. These were struck at all three operating US Mints; Philadelphia (with no mint mark), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S). They were struck in 1951 thru 1954.

Fifty State (District of Columbia and Territorial) Commemorative Quarter Folder: Deluxe Edition (Official Whitman Coin Folder)
Fifty State (District of Columbia and Territorial) Commemorative Quarter Folder: Deluxe Edition (Official Whitman Coin Folder)
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National Park Quarters Album, 2010-2021 P&D (Cornerstone Coin Albums)
National Park Quarters Album, 2010-2021 P&D (Cornerstone Coin Albums)
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2015 US Error Coins: Based on realized auctions
2015 US Error Coins: Based on realized auctions
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U. S. Coin Digest 2009 (US Coin Digest)
U. S. Coin Digest 2009 (US Coin Digest)
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2012 U.S. Coin Digest
2012 U.S. Coin Digest
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N.C.I. Grading Guide: A Step-by-step approach to the grading of uncirculated and proof coins
N.C.I. Grading Guide: A Step-by-step approach to the grading of uncirculated and proof coins
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