Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 5,000
Catalog: KM-176
Obverse Designer: Constance Ortmeyer
Reverse Designer: Constance Ortmeyer
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $5.35 (9/4/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1936 S CINCINNATI 50C MS obverse 1936 S CINCINNATI 50C MS reverse


  
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VarietyPlus®

There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

The 1936 Cincinnati Half Dollar was another in a long line of clear money grabs in the history of the classic commemorative series. Just as the Alabama “Centennial” half dollar was essentially an afterthought used to raise money, so too was the Cincinnati. The coin was ostensibly struck to celebrate the anniversary of Cincinnati, Ohio “as a center of music,” and to commemorate “its contribution to the art of music for the past 50 years.” However, in reality, the purpose of this half dollar was to make money for a small group of coin collectors and dealers, primarily Thomas G. Melish.

One of the biggest issues with the minting of this coin is that, historically, the commemorative coins were reserved for celebrating special anniversaries. In this case, however, there was no special anniversary of any sort within a decade of 1936. In fact, even the Commission of Fine Arts noted that there were a multitude of reasons not to issue this coin and advised against it.

Yet, Melish and his Commemorative Coin Association prevailed, and on March 31, 1936, Congress authorized the striking of 15,000 coins at the “mints.” Melish originally wanted 10,000 pieces struck at the Philadelphia Mint, 3,000 in San Francisco, and only 2,000 in the Denver facility. This, of course, would have made the 1936-D coins instant rarities. The Congressional Act, however, was amended to specify that the term “at the Mints” meant that 5,000 pieces were to be struck at each of the three mint branches.

The coin itself was designed by artist Constance Ortmeyer. The obverse has an image of Stephen Foster, who is known as the father of American Music and lived in Cincinnati for a few years (not while writing music), which was apparently enough for Melish. The back portrays a kneeling woman which is supposed to represent the Goddess of Music. The coin itself supposedly honors the golden anniversary of the Cincinnati as the Center of Music, but if that was reality, then the coin should have been struck in 1923 as opposed to 1936.

As if only to further prove to future generations that the Cincinnati Commemorative was a money grab, the 3-coin sets were issued at a costly $7.75, as opposed to the more reasonable $3 per set price point of most other commemoratives. But to add even more insult to injury, the sets (sold by Melish, of course,) were “over-subscribed,” and he began to sell sets on the secondary market for $45. In the end, Melish created the instant rarity he wanted, and today, decades later, the coins are still sought by collectors as one of the key types of the commemorative coin series.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 4/21/2015

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

1936 S CINCINNATI 50C MS
  GVGFVFXF5053555861626364656667686970
Base $ - - 160 195 250 265 270 285 295 315 325 350 410 690 1600 18400 - - -
$ - - - - - - 335 385 445 775 2400 - -

The World Coin Price Guide is independently compiled by Krause Publications’ NumisMaster. NGC makes this information available to its website visitors as a free service, but in no way does the information provided represent NGC’s official opinion or policy. For example, varieties listed in the World Coin Price Guide may not necessarily be recognized by NGC. Please contact NGC Customer Service with any questions.

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 878
Low Grade: 61
Average Grade: 64
High Grade: 67


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
2/2/1994 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions February 1994 Long Beach Bullet Sale #113, 113/Lot# 1000 $715.00
6/12/2001 NGC MS 64   Heritage Auctions Exclusively Internet Auction #21063, 21063/Lot# 3829 $215.00
4/25/2005 NGC MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Richmond Sale, Internet-Only Auction, 40/Lot# 907 $308.20
9/10/2006 PCGS MS 66   Goldberg September 10-13, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 37/Lot# 3325 $1,610.00
7/5/2009 PCGS MS 64   Teletrade Auction 2714, 2714/Lot# 1902 $299.00
11/3/2010 NGC MS 66   Stack's Bowers The November 2010 Baltimore Auction, 44/Lot# 4484 $1,063.75
1/30/2011 NGC MS 66   Goldberg January 30 - February 3, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 62/Lot# 1865 $253.00
10/12/2014 NGC MS 64   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 10/12/2014, 190/Lot# 216864 $340.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1936 S CINCINNATI 50C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base415450487527609725745754764793811829847865908100513812608654581571854533294
427462500554648732748757774799817835853879940113017903920708211620234610
00000074875777479981783585387994011301790392070821162000
00000075176178380582384185989497312562199523376201508200
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 67
Points: 7082
Owner: Chippewa
 
Grade: MS 65
Points: 1381
Owner: Dick's Classic Commemoratives
 
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