Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 71,369
Catalog: KM-174
Obverse Designer: Jacques Schnier
Reverse Designer: Jacques Schnier
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $5.11 (11/30/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1936 S BAY BRIDGE 50C MS obverse 1936 S BAY BRIDGE 50C MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

Very few classic United States commemorative coins were struck in order to mark an achievement in the field of engineering. The 1915-S Panama-Pacific International Exposition coins may be included within this small group, as they commemorate the world’s fair which itself celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal. The only coin dedicated solely to recognition of an engineering triumph, however, is the 1936-S half dollar issued to mark the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in November of that year.

By the 1930’s, San Francisco was a bustling city of over 600,000 residents. Unfortunately, it was geographically isolated on the tip of a long peninsula, meaning that ferries were often used to traverse San Francisco Bay. The idea for a several-mile long bridge to cross the bay was proposed as early as the 1920’s, but the tipping point came during the depression. The need for new jobs helped propel the project into fruition. Construction of the bridge commenced on July 9, 1933 and was completed during the latter months of 1936. The grand opening was held the weekend of November 12-14, with a long line of motorists and pedestrians eagerly awaiting their turn to cross. Although not ready for opening day, among the souvenirs available a week later were the United States half dollars, coined at the San Francisco Mint and bearing (literally!) a design which honored the engineering achievement.

The coin’s design was executed by Jacques Schnier, a Romanian immigrant then living in Oakland. The Commission of Fine Arts reviewed his designs, and after only a few minor changes they were approved. The obverse of the coin is dominated by a grizzly bear, which is a symbol of the state The reverse is a highly stylized view of the newly completed bridge as seen from San Francisco. A ferry building is seen in the foreground, which was to offer the juxtaposition of the old and new ways of transport.

The coins were sold at several locations in the Bay Area at the price of $1.50 each. Perhaps the most novel of sales locations was the bridge’s toll booths themselves. Even with interest in the commemorative coin series dropping, sales were quite decent, with 71,369 of the 100,000 coins minted sold.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 7/24/2015

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Base $ - - 80.00 95.00 135 140 150 155 160 170 180 190 215 310 515 2150 17500 - -
$ - - - - - - - - 235 335 765 4300 -

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Total Graded: 3666
Low Grade: 55
Average Grade: 64
High Grade: 68

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
9/10/2006 PCGS MS 66   Goldberg September 10-13, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 37/Lot# 509 $460.00
1/9/2013 PCGS MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2013 January 9-13 US Coin FUN Signature Auction - Orlando Session(9), 1181/Lot# 13603 $129.25
3/18/2013 PCGS MS 65   Teletrade Auction 3422, 3422/Lot# 2325 $150.00
11/3/2013 PCGS MS 66   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 776, 785/Lot# 235 $435.00
2/23/2014 NGC MS 64   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 02/23/2014, 182/Lot# 167245 $154.00
3/31/2015 PCGS MS 65   Stack's Bowers March 2015 Baltimore, 6065/Lot# 33785 $158.63
6/28/2015 NGC MS 63   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131527/Lot# 21208 $152.75

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1936 S BAY BRIDGE 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 68
Points: 6622
Owner: Chippewa
Grade: MS 68
Points: 6622
Owner: Gregg Bingham
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