Gold Commemoratives (1903-1926)
The US Commemorative Coin series officially began with the uniquely designed quarter dollars and half dollars issued for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1892-93. Learn More...
Gold Commemoratives (1903-1926)
The US Commemorative Coin series officially began with the uniquely designed quarter dollars and half dollars issued for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1892-93. Over the next sixty years, a wide variety of themes were depicted on several denominations of federal coins, though by far the most numerous were half dollar commemoratives. Issued to recognize both important anniversaries and contemporary events, these commemorative coins were delivered to their sponsoring commissions at face value plus the cost of the dies and then sold by these commissions to raise funds. While both the subject matter and the artistry of these commemorative coins ranged from awful to superb, all were produced in limited numbers and are extremely popular with collectors.
Commemorative coin issue restrictions were imposed by Congress in 1939, due to abuses by some of the coin sponsors and the exploitative production of certain issues year after year at several mints. No new programs were authorized after 1951, and the minting of Commemorative coins ceased altogether after 1954. Another 28 years passed before the next commemorative coin was issued. The 1982 half dollar commemorative coin honoring the 250th anniversary of George Washington's birth was sold directly to collectors by the U. S. Mint, and this has been standard practice ever since. While the early 1990s witnessed a proliferation of commemorative coin programs, more recent offerings have been limited to just two per year, to the great relief of collectors.
Commemorative coins typically are collected by type alone. The "classic" commemoratives of 1892-1954 are also sought in all their date/mint combinations, while "modern" issue 1982 to date Commemorative coins are also collected comprehensively. This includes both proof and uncirculated editions, unlike the older issues for which proofs are nearly unknown.
Commemorative coins typically have small mintages, and due to this, die varieties are seldom encountered with these issues. For the most part, such Commemorative coin die varieties are limited to clashing and/or overpolishing of the dies, phenomena more accurately described as die states than true die varieties. There are collectable exceptions. NGC will attribute all United States commemorative coins varieties by VarietyPlus and most Cherrypickers' Guide listings.
Below is a list of commemorative coin die varieties NGC recognizes beginning with 1915 S/S Pan Pacific. Access to the detailed pages are a part of NGC Collectors Society membership. Die variety detail pages contain population information as well as NGC database images for available coin varieties.
- Bowers, Q. David. Commemorative Coins of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia.. Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers & Merena Galleries, 1991.
- Swiatek, Anthony. Commemorative Coins of the United States. Sidney, OH: Coin World, 2001.
- Bowers, Q. David. A Guide Book of United States Commemorative Coins. Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2008.
- Fivaz, Bill & J.T. Stanton, Ken Potter, Editor. The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 2. Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, 2012.