Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 5,000
Obverse Designer: Constance Ortmeyer
Reverse Designer: Constance Ortmeyer
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $9.06 (1/28/2021)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1936 S CINCINNATI 50C MS obverse 1936 S CINCINNATI 50C MS reverse
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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: 9/30/2018

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

1936 S 50C CINCINNATI MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ - - 160 195 250 265 270 285 295 305 315 325 350 410 690 1600 17000 - - -
$ - - - - - - - 335 385 445 775 2400 - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 928
Low Grade: 61
Average Grade: 64
High Grade: 67

The chart showing 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series, 67 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 1/26/2021 1936 S 50C CINCINNATI MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base------------225136543190257---928
---------------1-11---3
---------------113----5
-----------------------
Total------------225136545191298---936
 ------------0%3%15%58%20%3%1%--- 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1936 S 50C CINCINNATI MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base415450487527609725745754764793811829847865908100513812608654581571854533294
4274625005546487327487577747998178358538799401130179039207082116202346134959
00000074875777479981783585387994011301790392070821162000
00000075176178380582384185989497312562199523376201508200
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 67
Points: 7082
Owner: Chippewa
 
Grade: MS 65
Points: 1381
Owner: Blaster
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.