Description and Analysis
1916 MCKINLEY G$1 MS
Description & Analysis
The McKinley gold dollars of 1916 and 1917 were coined at the request the National McKinley Birthplace memorial Association nearly fifteen years after McKinley’s death at the hands of an assassin. Proceeds from the sale of the coins were to be used to construct a memorial in his home town of Niles, Ohio. While the original request from the association was for commemorative silver dollars, McKinley’s pro-gold stance in office led Congress to the change the bill to call for gold dollar coins instead. A bill passed on February 23rd, 1916 authorized the mintage of up to 100,000 coins.
Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber was selected to design the reverse, and his assistant George T. Morgan was charged with designing the reverse. Barber was nearing the end of his life, and his obverse was not well received. The portrait of McKinley didn’t particularly look like the former president, which is obviously an issue. Around the top of the periphery are UNITED · STATES · OF · AMERICA, and MCKINLEY · DOLLAR is seen below.
Morgan’s reverse was even less well-received. It features a facing view of the McKinley Birthplace Memorial structure. Not only is it architecturally inaccurate, but it’s also crudely rendered. Around the periphery of the coin is MCKINLEY BIRTHPLACE MEMORIAL. NILES OHIO is above the memorial, divided by a flag pole, and the date, either 1916 or 1917, is below. When combined with the fact that these coins are often seen weakly struck, the whole makes for an aesthetically poor creation.
There were 20,000 McKinley gold dollars struck in 1916 and a further 10,000 dated 1917 struck in February of the following year. Some uncertainty exists respecting the number of each date that was actually sold as well as the number melted. However, according to B. Max Mehl, a famous dealer of the time who handled many thousands of the coins, 5,000 of both issues were melted, leaving a net mintage of 15,000 for the 1916 issue and only 5,000 for the 1917.