High Grade MacArthur Commemoratives

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Probably not the ones you're expecting though.


Both of these coins were designed by famed sculptor Laura Gardin Frasier and were struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1947. The "S" mintmark appears just below the date on the reverse. They were struck in very shallow relief and can be extremely difficult to obtain in high grades. These coins represent several firsts.


- First coins minted for the newly independent "Republic of the Philippines."

- First commemorative coins honoring General Douglas MacArthur.

- First (and currently the only) MacArthur 50 Centavo to receive a Star designation.


Virtually every coin I own has a story, and these are no different.


The 50 Centavos is a very recent acquisition. I was perusing eBay one morning last week, and this coin popped up as a Buy-It-Now, so I did some quick research. A truly staggering number of these coins have been graded by NGC. Of the 1,772 graded, the vast majority are MS65 (1,535). 134 have been graded MS66, 6 have received the lofty grade of MS67, and only one of those 6 has been awarded a Star for exceptional eye appeal. This one was quite a find! Last summer I acquired a really nice bright white MS66 and the price of this one put me off just a little, so I didn't pull the trigger right away. I went and took my morning shower and contemplated whether I should go for it or not. I finally decided that I would really regret missing the opportunity to acquire THE finest known 1947S MacArthur 50 Centavos graded by either NGC or PCGS, so I hopped out of the shower and hot footed it back to the computer and bought it.


It arrived earlier this week and it is a beauty! I always take high resolution pictures of my coins as soon as I can, and much to my surprise this coin appears to be the Allen R-1a doubled die obverse variety. To the right and just below MacArthur's chin, the letters "DOU" in DOUGLAS and the letters "ARTHUR" are noticeably doubled with the second strike slightly down and to the right of the first. It's not only the finest known, it's also one of the three known varieties. I'm REALLY glad now that I decided to go for it! Unfortunately, NGC does not notate the varieties for this coin on the label. PCGS does, but I'm not going to cross it just to get the designation on the label.


About a year ago, a seller posted a beautifully rainbow toned NGC MS66 1947-S MacArthur Peso with a Buy-It-Now price just a hair under $1,000. It's been rolling over every month since then and it's still out there if anyone is interested. That price is way over the top, but it did spark my interest. In September last year, another seller I buy from frequently offered a raw toned peso as an auction on eBay. It looked really nice and a few others saw it too, so the price got bid up a bit, but I managed to win it. It looked really nice in hand, but since I already had a nice bright white MS65, it took me another five months to send it in for grading. I was hoping for an MS65, and was elated when I saw it had received an MS66. This coin has beautiful peripheral toning that the picture does not do justice. As of this writing, NGC has graded 345 pieces with a scant 15 receiving a grade of MS66 with none finer. PCGS has graded only 2 finer at MS66+ and MS67+. This is a truly stunning coin and well worth the money and effort spent to have it graded.


Both of these coins are what I like to call "coins of opportunity." I wasn't actively looking for them, but they were just too good to pass up.


Thanks for reading!



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Nice buy. Ugly design.


Might not have needed a commemorative if MacArthur had launched an air strike against Japanese bases on Formosa as soon as he learned of the surprise attacks. Instead, he left the US bombers on the ground and ready for destruction by the Japanese air forces, and the rest of the mess followed.


MacArthur’s ego outranked everyone – even Patton and Montgomery!


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I love these coins. Saw my first one when I was visiting the Islands. I have a lot of Philipine coinage but only one that's in a slab. Wonderful pieces shown by both collectors and wonderful stories.

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