Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 20,000
Obverse Designer: Trygve A. Rovelstad
Reverse Designer: Trygve A. Rovelstad
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $6.70 (2/22/2020)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1936 ELGIN 50C MS obverse 1936 ELGIN 50C MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

Although the Elgin Half dollar was partly conceived to commemorate the founding of Elgin, in reality, the anniversary was secondary to the more urgent goal of raising funds for a work of art. Sculptor Trygve A. Rovelstad’s grand vision of a 9 foot-tall group of sculptures memorializing pioneers was to cost a then-estimated $75,000-$100,000, and he looked to the commemorative coin program for funding.

A bill introduced on May 27th, 1935 called for the coining of not more than 10,000 half dollars commemorating the centennial of Elgin and To support the erection of the Pioneer Memorial. The Elgin Centennial Monumental Committee was tasked with getting the bill approved. After stalling out in the legislature, the committee sought help from L. W. Hoffecker of El Paso, who was the promoter/distributor for the Spanish Trail half dollar. A shady back-room deal was organized in which Hoffecker would be the sole distributor for the coin and would reap a percentage of the profits. The part-time dealer was finally able to get a bill passed on June 16th, 1936, albeit with a revised mintage of 25,000 coins.

In the meantime, Rovelstad submitted his sketches to the Mint. The only major change they asked for was to alter the pioneer on the obverse’s bust from a three-quarter to a profile view. After the revision, the designs were approved on August 21st of 1936. The obverse of this coin displays a profile bust of a pioneer man, whose full figure is repeated on the reverse as part of a grouping which also includes his wife and baby, as well as their grown sons. Aside from the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, the obverse features the word PIONEER, Rovelstad’s monogrammed initials and the dates 1673 1936. The reverse is dominated by a slightly modified rendition of Rovelstad’s Pioneer Memorial, lacking its monumental, inscribed base. Most of the lettering is mandated by law: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HALF DOLLAR, LIBERTY and E PLURIBUS UNUM. The statuary is identified in tiny letters: PIONEER MEMORIAL and ELGIN, ILLINOIS.

The entire authorized mintage of 25,000 coins was struck at the Philadelphia Mint that October. Hoffecker received the coins from the Mint on October 11, and he shipped out all of the existing orders just two days later. In addition to the pieces sold by him via mail orders, lesser quantities were distributed by local banks, and even the Elgin Watch Company ordered 100 pieces for promotional purposes. Sales soon slowed to a trickle, however, with about 5,000 pieces still on hand. Those coins were eventually returned to the mint to be melted, resulting in a net mintage of 20,000 coins. In the end, Rovelstad only raised about 10% of the money needed for the statue, which wasn’t to be completed until many decades later.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 4/15/2019

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1936 50C ELGIN MS
Base $ - - 125 145 160 160 165 165 190 200 210 215 220 230 260 300 1000 13000 - -
$ - - - - - - - - - 235 275 475 2100 50000

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Total Graded: 3379
Low Grade: 50
Average Grade: 64
High Grade: 68

The chart showing 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series, 67 series, 68 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 2/18/2020 1936 50C ELGIN MS

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1936 50C ELGIN MS
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Grade: MS 68
Points: 6485
Owner: Gregg Bingham
Grade: MS 68
Points: 6485
Owner: J & L
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