Description and Analysis
1991-1995 P W.W.II 50C MS
Description & Analysis
The 50th Anniversary of World War II was marked with a most unusual series of commemorative coins. Consisting of a copper-nickel-clad half dollar, a silver dollar and a gold half eagle, none of these coins bore any indication of when they were minted. Instead, each carried the dual dates of 1991-1995 for the 50th anniversaries of America’s entry into World War II and the war’s conclusion, respectively. These pieces were actually coined and issued during 1993.
The half dollar features on its obverse the heads of three American servicemen superimposed over the ‘V’ for Victory so familiar during the war years. Above this group flies a B-29 Superfortress bomber surmounted by five stars for the number of years America participated in the war. The dual commemorative dates appear at right, with the balance of this side consisting of statutory inscriptions. This side is the work of George Klauba. Shown on the reverse by Bill J. Leftwich is a battle scene typical of so many Pacific Islands beaches. An infantryman crawls up the sand under fire, while a ship in the distance shells the enemy’s defenses and an F4U Corsair fighter swoops down low to provide covering fire. The mintmark appears within the sand at four o’clock, and the remaining writing on this side is limited to statutory legends.
The silver dollar was solely the work of the U. S. Mint’s own Thomas D. Rogers, Sr., who chose as his theme the landings at Normandy to liberate France. The obverse again shows an infantryman ascending the beach. Above him is the inscription “D-DAY JUNE 6, 1944,” while the dual dates of commemoration appear at right. These elements are balanced at left and below by statutory mottoes. The reverse imagery is limited to the shoulder insignia of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, accompanied by a quote from its commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower: “I HAVE FULL CONFIDENCE IN YOUR COURAGE, DEVOTION TO DUTY AND SKILL IN BATTLE. WE WILL ACCEPT NOTHING LESS THAN FULL VICTORY!” Eisenhower’s name is below the quote, with the coin’s mintmark below it. Statutory inscriptions complete this side.
The half eagle offers the least satisfying and, perhaps, most confusing design. Charles J. Madsen’s obverse provides a facing view of an Army soldier or a Marine holding his rifle, but the intended theme of “Victory” is not really evident. The dual commemorative dates in the right field help only a little, and the rest of this side is taken with statutory mottoes. The meaning of the reverse is more obvious, with a block letter ‘V’ over which is superimposed unnecessarily the same letter written in Morse code. Two olive branches flank either side of the letter, with the mintmark below and the remaining statutory inscriptions completing this side, which was designed by Edward Southworth Fisher.
The Philadelphia Mint (‘P’ mintmark) produced both the uncirculated and proof editions of the clad half dollar, while West Point (‘W’) coined all of the half eagles and the proof silver dollars. The Denver Mint (‘D’) struck the uncirculated edition of the dollar coin.
Offered with the usual pre-issue discounts, the World War II commemorative coins sold reasonably well but once again fell far short of expectations. The planned for sales in the millions to veterans never materialized, once again reinforcing the lesson that Congress never seems to learn—it is mostly collectors who buy commemorative coins, regardless of the theme.