Coin Specifications

Category: Modern Commemoratives (1982-Date)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 53,533
Obverse Designer: T. James Ferrell
Reverse Designer: Norman E. Nemeth
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 26.7300g
ASW: 0.7734oz
Melt Value: $12.92 (12/7/2019)
Diameter: 38.1mm
Edge: Reeded
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2003 P FIRST FLIGHT S$1 MS obverse 2003 P FIRST FLIGHT S$1 MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

The urge to fly like a bird has been a dream of humans for millennia. It fills ancient mythology, and inventors from Leonardo da Vinci onward have devised contraptions of all shapes and sizes in an attempt to fulfill this dream. Not until modern scientific observation was applied, however, did someone succeed. After years of experimentation with gliders, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio finally achieved success where so many had failed. They did so by combining their knowledge of controlled flight with a motor of sufficient power-to-weight ratio that it permitted them to apply this knowledge. The result was a frail craft that could actually fly in the desired direction for as long as the fuel supply lasted. The date of that first successful flight was December 17, 1903.

To honor the centennial of this momentous occasion, Congress authorized a three-coin set consisting of a copper-nickel-clad half dollar, a silver dollar and a gold eagle. This last coin was included in place of the more typical half eagle, or five-dollar piece. The recipient of surcharge revenue from these coins was the First Flight Foundation, which oversees maintenance of the Wright Brothers National Memorial Park on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the historic flight took place and where a monument to this achievement now stands.

The half dollar’s design is a collaborative effort between U. S. Mint Sculptor-Engravers Donna Weaver and John Mercanti. The obverse features a perspective view of the Wright Brothers Memorial, with the inscription “WRIGHT MONUMENT” beneath it. Below this is the date of coining, and the usual statutory mottoes complete this side. The reverse is likewise refreshingly spare of text. It shows a view now familiar from a photograph taken on the historic occasion of Orville Wright in the Wright Flyer, with brother Wilbur running behind. Beneath the horizon line are the initials of the artists at left and the coin’s mintmark at right. Statutory legends are arranged above and below the central device.

The obverse of the silver dollar displays conjoined, left-facing busts of the Wright Brothers. The dates of commemoration and coining flank these busts, with the inscription “ORVILLE & WILBUR WRIGHT” below them. The initials of U. S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver T. James Ferrell are just above the truncation of Wilbur’s bust, and statutory mottoes are arranged in arcs at the top. Norman E. Nemeth of the U. S. Mint sculpted the reverse of this coin, and his initials are seen near the border at five o’clock. This side features the Wright Flyer soaring over a stylized sand dune. The mintmark is placed near the border at three o’clock, and the balance of this pleasing design consists solely of statutory legends.

Donna Weaver designed the gold eagle, which displays on its obverse facing bust of the famed inventors. Placed beneath these is the inscription “ORVILLE & WILBUR WRIGHT FIRST FLIGHT CENTENNIAL,” while the dates of commemoration and coining are stacked at the right. The mottoes required by law on all USA coins complete this side. The reverse shows an aerial view of the Wright Flyer and an American eagle, with a stylized beach beneath them. Below the horizon line are the designer’s initials at left and the coin’s mintmark at right, and statutory legends balance the design.

Congress placed mintage limits on the First Flight Centennial coins of 750,000 half dollars, 500,000 silver dollars and 100,000 gold eagles. The Philadelphia Mint coined both the proof and uncirculated editions of the half dollar and dollar, while West Point struck all of the gold pieces.

The sales period for this offering ran a full year, from August 1, 2003 through July 31, 2004, but hopes for a sell-out were dashed. Though the Wright series benefited from a general increase in the popularity of modern United States coins, the higher cost of a ten-dollar piece over that of a five-dollar piece likely limited sales of this issue both individually and as part of the sets.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 4/15/2019

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

2003 P FIRST FLIGHT S$1 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - - - 18.70 19.80 20.90 22.00 25.00 28.75 30.00 31.00 33.75 43.00 110

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 3174
Low Grade: 68
Average Grade: 69
High Grade: 70

The chart showing 68 series, 69 series, 70 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 12/3/2019 2003 P FIRST FLIGHT S$1 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base-------------------15201711423174
-----------------------
-----------------------
-----------------------
Total-------------------15201711423174
 -------------------0 %64 %36 % 

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
9/23/2007 PCGS MS 70   Goldberg September 23-26, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 42/Lot# 1863 $253.00
10/7/2007 PCGS MS 69   Teletrade Auction 2432, 2432/Lot# 1880 $32.00
1/6/2010 PCGS MS 70   Heritage Auctions 2010 January Orlando, FL FUN US Coin Auction #1136, 1136/Lot# 9985 $149.50
11/6/2011 PCGS MS 69   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 11/06/2011, 143/Lot# 23212 $35.77
7/29/2012 PCGS MS 69   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/29/2012, 33/Lot# 66021 $30.00
6/9/2013 NGC MS 69   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131325/Lot# 22730 $28.00
9/14/2014 PCGS MS 69   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 821, 830/Lot# 10345 $109.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 2003 P FIRST FLIGHT S$1 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base373737373737373737373776818589102119123127139175366
3737373737373737373750788286931081201241311512390
00000037373737507882869310812012413115100
00000037373737637984889811312212613516300
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 70
Points: 366
Owner: All MS70
 
Grade: MS 70
Points: 366
Owner: Beijim
 
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