Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 274,000
Catalog: KM-153
Obverse Designer: Chester Beach
Reverse Designer: Chester Beach
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $5.11 (12/1/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1923 S MONROE 50C MS obverse 1923 S MONROE 50C MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

One of the coins with the most convoluted history is the 1923-S Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollar. Certainly, the Monroe Doctrine itself is deserving of national recognition. This foreign policy statement issued by President James Monroe in 1823 expressed in no uncertain terms that the U.S. would not tolerate European interference, control or influence in North and South America. However, the way the coin came about is odd to say the least. In the early 1920’s, Hollywood was reeling from multiple scandals. To help polish the studios’ tarnished reputations, the American Historical Revue and Motion Picture Historical Exposition was formed.

While searching for a way to raise funds, the Historical Exposition decided that a commemorative coin would do the trick, as well as have the additional benefit of generating much needed goodwill for the film industry. The Exposition decided that the Monroe Doctrine, written 100 years earlier in 1923, would make for a popular coin. Legislation passed on January 24th, 1923 authorized the minting of no more than 300,000 Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollars.

Sculptor Chester Beach was selected to design the coin. The obverse is simple enough, and shows the conjoined busts of Monroe and his Secretary of State in 1823, John Quincy Adams. Surrounding the busts at the periphery are the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR. To their left is IN GOD WE TRUST, and to the right the date and mint mark.

The reverse was originally to be a simple depiction of North and South America. However, in place of the relief maps of the continents, Beach substituted two female figures which were contorted into a rough approximation of the shape of each land mass. The North American figure holds a branch in her left hand in the area of northern Canada while extending a twig to South America through Central America with her right hand. The South American figure holds a cornucopia with her right arm. The major ocean currents of the Atlantic and Pacific are also included, and apparently represent the flow of goods between the two continents, unimpeded by the European powers. In the lower left reverse field the centennial dates 1823-1923 flank both sides of a scroll and quill, symbols clearly intended to suggest the Monroe Doctrine. The inscriptions MONROE DOCTRINE CENTENNIAL and LOS ANGELES encircle the border. Struck in low relief, the design overall is uninspiring.

While 300,000 coins were authorized, only 274,000 were actually struck. The coins were sold for $1 each, although many were released into circulation at face value after sales fell well short of that number. Therefore, the net mintage was 274,000, and this issue is often found circulated.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 7/24/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1923 S MONROE 50C MS
Base $ - - 22.00 30.00 38.00 51.00 53.00 56.00 60.00 72.00 95.00 130 270 1550 4800 27000 - - -
$ - - - - - - 105 185 315 2000 6850 - -

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Total Graded: 3601
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 68

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
5/28/2006 PCGS MS 64   Goldberg May 28-31, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 36/Lot# 435 $488.75
6/25/2007 PCGS MS 65   Teletrade Auction 2386, 2386/Lot# 1361 $179.20
6/8/2009 NGC MS 65   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 382, 388/Lot# 962 $1,127.00
8/11/2010 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2010 August Boston, MA Signature & Platinum Night ANA Coin Auction #1143, 1143/Lot# 11271 $1,035.00
4/1/2014 PCGS MS 64   Stack's Bowers March 2014 Baltimore Auction, 6008/Lot# 8412 $135.13
9/7/2014 PCGS MS 65   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 09/07/2014, 191/Lot# 211903 $800.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1923 S MONROE 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 68
Points: 6040
Owner: J & L
Grade: MS 67
Points: 4535
Owner: Richard Schultz
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