Coin Specifications

Category: Modern Commemoratives (1982-Date)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 133,139
Obverse Designer: Marika Somogyi and Chester Martin
Reverse Designer: Frank Gasparro
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 26.7300g
ASW: 0.7734oz
Melt Value: $14.23 (2/20/2020)
Diameter: 38.1mm
Edge: Reeded
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1991 P MOUNT RUSHMORE S$1 MS obverse 1991 P MOUNT RUSHMORE S$1 MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

The colossal heads of four United States presidents carved into a mountainside in South Dakota is an image known to every American, regardless of whether or not one has been there in person. It is also a scene known worldwide as an iconic image of the United States of America, a remarkable achievement for a monument that was completed as recently as 1941. It was to honor the 50th anniversary of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s completion that a set of three commemorative coins was authorized on July 16, 1990.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum was the master craftsman overseeing the great monument’s creation. Known also for his epic depiction of three heroes of the southern Confederacy on Georgia’s Stone Mountain, Borglum had walked away from this project in frustration, and it was ultimately completed by another artist decades later. Despite this history, he was commissioned to create the Mount Rushmore Memorial in 1927. The artist originally conceived a much grander monument, but the hard times of the Great Depression caused the program to be scaled back to the four heads seen today. Borglum died in 1941, the same year that the monument was completed.

The commemorative coin program for 1991 consisted of three denominations—a copper-nickel-clad half dollar and a silver dollar, both of which were limited to 2-1/2 million pieces, and a gold half eagle with a maximum mintage of 500,000 coins. This lineup had proved successful in several recent programs, and it seemed to offer something for every budget. Included in the sales price were surcharges of $1, $7 and $35, respectively. Half of the proceeds were directed toward the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society of Black Hills, South Dakota, while the balance would go into the U. S. Treasury’s general fund.

The design of the half dollar was split between commercial artist Marcel Jovine (obverse) and U. S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver T. James Ferrell. Jovine isolated just that portion of the mountain holding the presidents’ heads and placed it before a rising sun. In addition to the statutory inscriptions are the words “MOUNT RUSHMORE” at the bottom, along with the date of coining and Jovine’s initials, which are worked into the rock between and below the heads of Roosevelt and Lincoln. For the reverse, Ferrell presented a bison in full profile, above which are the words “GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY.” The artist’s initials appear in italic print behind the bison’s forelegs, while the mintmark is placed quite conspicuously in the right field. The balance of the reverse is filled with statutory inscriptions and an inner border of 50 stars.

The silver dollar is somewhat similar in design, with another depiction of the mountain face, sans sun rays, on the obverse. This was the concept of sculptor Marika H. Somogyi, though the actual model was sculpted by Chester Y. Martin of the U. S. Mint, and both sets of initials appear at the bottom of the obverse. A heraldic wreath arcs around the lower half of this side, and partially wrapped around it is a banner reading “IN GOD WE TRUST.” The motto “LIBERTY” is at top, and the beneath the mountain panel are the words “GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL” in two lines. Perhaps the only clever aspect of this design is the placement of the date incuse within the mountainside. The reverse of this coin was designed by retired U. S. Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro and was his final work for that institution. He revived his national seal for the umpteenth time, placing it here superimposed over a cluster of clouds surmounting a map of the USA, with a glory of sun rays around the seal. On the map appear the words “SHRINE OF DEMOCRACY.” In addition to the remaining statutory inscriptions are Gasparro’s initials to the left of the map and the coin’s mintmark to its right.

The gold half eagle is easily the most appealing of the three coins in this set. It features an obverse by the U. S. Mint’s own John Mercanti in which the American eagle is seen in flight over the monument, the tools of the sculptor grasped in its talons. This design’s bold asymmetry permits the date and “LIBERTY” to be placed in the open right field, the obverse being balanced by six stars at right. Mercanti’s initials are at the left side of the mountain scene, near the rim. The reverse of this coin is somewhat less appealing and consists entirely of inscriptions. All of these are mandated by law, with the exception of the words “Mount Rushmore National Memorial,” attractively rendered in script. Below this are initials of the designer, commercial artist Robert Lamb, and the sculptor, U. S. Mint staffer William Cousins. Centered between and below these initials is the mintmark.

As was becoming customary, this program offered a number of packaging options, as well as pre-issue price discounts. The uncirculated half dollar, minted at Denver (‘D’ mintmark), was priced at $6 through March 28, 1991, after which time it was $7. The proof edition (‘S’ mintmark) was priced at $8.50 and $9.50, respectively. Prices for the 1991-P silver dollar were $23 at pre-issue and $26 thereafter, while the ‘S’ Mint proof edition was $28 and $31, respectively. Both versions of the gold half eagle were coined at West Point (‘W’). Uncirculated coins cost $185 through March 28 and $210 afterward, while the proof edition was priced at $195 and $225, respectively. The Prestige Proof Set for 1991 featured the Mount Rushmore Half Dollar and Silver Dollar, in addition to the regular coin types. This set was priced at $49 during the pre-issue period and at $55 thereafter.

Aside from the obverse of the half eagle, all of the designs for this coin program were repetitive and mediocre, being some of the blandest coins ever produced by the U. S. Mint. Collectors evidently agreed, as sales for all three were quite disappointing. Compounding the Mount Rushmore coins’ problems was the fact that this program was in competition with two others for the collector dollar that year, and all three commemorative series suffered as a result.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 1/22/2020

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Total Graded: 1892
Low Grade: 65
Average Grade: 69
High Grade: 70

The chart showing 65 series, 66 series, 67 series, 68 series, 69 series, 70 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 2/18/2020 1991 P S$1 MOUNT RUSHMORE MS

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1991 P S$1 MOUNT RUSHMORE MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 70
Points: 381
Owner: All MS70
Grade: MS 70
Points: 381
Owner: asdfgh
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