Early Commemorative Coins

The Early United States commemorative coins traditionally begins with the 1892 Colombian Half dollar and extends through the 1954 Booker T. Washington issue.

Each of these coins tells a story, sometimes it's a story of an important event or person being commemorated. The profits from the sale of commemorative coins was often used to fund a specific project.

Commemorative coins were a money raising mechanism that was an alternative to raising taxes.

1893 Columbian Exposition

The Columbian Exposition commemorative coins honors the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America.

Columbian Exposition Quarter Dollar Silver
Year: 1893
Obverse: Queen Isabella of Spain
Reverse: Kneeling female with symbols of women's industry

Columbian Exposition Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1893
Obverse: Right-facing portrait of Columbus
Reverse: Port view of the Santa Maria above two hemispheres flanked by the date 1492.
1900 Lafayette

Lafayette Dollar
Year: 1900
Obverse: Busts of Washington and Lafayette
Reverse: Bartlett's statue of Lafayette

1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition Gold Dollar

Louisiana Purchase Exposition Gold Dollar (McKinley)
Year: 1903
Obverse: William McKinley's portrait
Reverse: Olive branch

Louisiana Purchase Exposition Gold Dollar (Jefferson)
Year: 1903
Obverse: Thomas Jefferson's portrait
Reverse: Olive branch
1904-1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition

The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition Gold Dollar was held in Portland, Oregon in 1905.

Lewis and Clark Exposition Gold Dollar
Year: 1904
Obverse: Portrait of Lewis
Reverse: Portrait of Clark





1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition

In 1915, San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific Exposition to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.

To commemorate the event, the United States mint struck a variety of coins in silver and gold, including a:

  • Half Dollar,
  • Gold Dollar,
  • $2-1/2 Gold,
  • $50 Gold Octagonal,
  • and $50 Gold Round.

Panama-Pacific Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1915
Obverse: Standing figure of Columbia
Reverse: Eagle on shield

Panama-Pacific Dollar Gold
Year: 1915
Obverse:
Reverse:

Panama-Pacific 2 1/2 Dollar Gold
Year: 1915
Obverse:
Reverse:

Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar Gold (Round)
Year: 1915
Obverse:
Reverse:

Panama-Pacific Fifty Dollar Gold (Octogonal)
Year: 1915
Obverse:
Reverse:
1916 McKinley Memorial

McKinley Memorial Gold Dollar
Year: 1916
Obverse: William McKinley
Reverse: McKinley Birthplace Memorial
1918 Lincoln/Illinois Centennial

Lincoln/Illinois Centennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1918
Obverse: Abraham Lincoln
Reverse: An eagle is depicted with one talon on a shield and a ribbon in its beak
1920 Maine Centennial

Maine Centennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1920
Obverse: The state seal
Reverse: A wreath of pine branches
1920 Pilgrim Tercentenary

Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1920-1921
Obverse: Governor William Bradford holding a Bible
Reverse: The Mayflower, the ship which carried the Pilgrims to Plymouth
1921 Missouri Centennial

Missouri Centennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1921
Obverse: A bust of Daniel Boone, wearing his well known coon-skin cap
Reverse: A scene of Daniel Boone standing with a Native American against a background of stars
1921 Alabama Centennial

Alabama Centennial Half Dollar Silver
The Alabama centennial half dollar commemorative coin was minted to celebrate the centennial of Alabama's admission to the Union in 1819.
Year: 1921
Obverse: William Bibb and Thomas Kilby
Reverse: Adaptation of the State Seal of Alabama

1922 Grant Memorial

Grant Memorial Gold Dollar
Year: 1922
Obverse: Right-facing portrait of Ulysses S. Grant
Reverse: Grantís Point Pleasant birthplace home

Grant Memorial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1922
Obverse: right-facing portrait of Ulysses S. Grant
Reverse: Grantís Point Pleasant birthplace home
1923 Monroe Doctrine Centennial

Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollar
Year: 1923
Obverse: Portraits of James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, who were both instrumental in formulating the Doctrine
Reverse: Two female forms in shapes resembling North and South America
1924 Huguenot-Walloon Tercentenary

Huguenot-Walloon Tercentenary Half Dollar
Year: 1924
Obverse: Admiral Coligny and William the Silent
Reverse: An image of the New Nederland, this is the ship that brought the settlers to the New World
1925 Fort Vancouver Centennial

Fort Vancouver Centennial Half Dollar
Year: 1925
Obverse: Portrait of Dr. McLoughlin
Reverse: Diorama of Fort Vancouver
1925 California Diamond Jubilee

California Diamond Jubilee Half Dollar
Year: 1925
Obverse: Miner panning gold
Reverse: Grizzly bear
1925 Lexington and Concord Sesquicentennial

Lexington and Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1925
Obverse: Minute Man statue
Reverse: Old Belfry
1925 Stone Mountain Memorial

Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1925
Obverse: Generals Lee and Jackson on horseback
Reverse: Eagle perched on cliff

1926 Sesquicentennial of American Independence

Sesquicentennial of American Independence Two and a Half Dollars Gold
Year: 1926
Obverse: Frontal view of Miss Liberty, her head turned to her right. In her right hand, she holds a torch of freedom; her left hand grasps a scroll draped over her shoulder.
Reverse: Stylized view of Independence Hall, with rays of the sun shining behind.

Sesquicentennial of American Independence Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1926
Obverse: Portraits of presidents Washington and Coolidge
Reverse: Liberty Bell
1926 Oregon Trail Memorial

Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar Silver
The Oregon Trail half dollar commemorative coin was minted to honor the migration of settlers to the west prior to the California Gold Rush, which began in 1849.
Year: 1926
Obverse: Native American standing in front of a U.S. map
Reverse: Ox-drawn covered wagon being led west toward the setting sun
1927 Vermont Sesquicentennial (Bennington)

Vermont Sesquicentennial (Bennington) Half Dollar
Year: 1927
Obverse: Portrait of Ira Allen
Reverse: Catamount
1928 Hawaiian Sesquicentennial

Hawaiian Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
Year: 1928
Obverse: Portrait of Captain Cook
Reverse: Standing Hawaiian chieftain
1934 Maryland Tercentenary

Maryland Tercentenary Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1934
Obverse: Portrait of Cecil Calvert
Reverse: Maryland State Seal
1935 San Diego, California Pacific Exposition

San Diego, California Pacific Exposition Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1935
Obverse: Minerva seated (from California State Seal)
Reverse: Exposition buildings
1935 Hudson, New York Sesquicentennial

Hudson, New York Sesquicentennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1935
Obverse: Half Moon ship
Reverse: Neptune on whale (from city seal)
1936 Connecticut Tercentenary

Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portrait of Charter Oak
Reverse: Eagle
1936 Old Spanish Trail

Old Spanish Trail Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Steer head
Reverse: Map of Southeastern states
1936 Bridgeport, Connecticut Centennial

Bridgeport, Connecticut Centennial Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portrait of P.T. Barnum
Reverse: Eagle
1936 Cincinnati Music Center

Cincinnati Music Center Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portrait of Stephen C. Foster
Reverse: Goddess of Music
1936 Cleveland Great Lakes Exposition

Cleveland Great Lakes Exposition Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portrait of Moses Cleaveland
Reverse: Map of Great Lakes region
1936 Columbia, South Carolina Sesquicentennial

Columbia, South Carolina Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Standing figure of Justice
Reverse: Palmetto tree
1936 Delaware Tercentenary

Delaware Tercentenary Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Old Swedes Church
Reverse: Kalmar Nyckel ship
1936 Elgin, Illinois Centennial

Elgin, Illinois Centennial Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portrait of pioneer
Reverse: Pioneer Memorial group
1936 Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portraits of Union and Confederate soldiers
Reverse: Union and Confederate shields
1936 Norfolk, Virginia Bicentennial

Norfolk, Virginia Bicentennial Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Norfolk City Seal
Reverse: Royal mace
1936 Providence, Rhode Island Tercentenary

Providence, Rhode Island Tercentenary Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Roger Williams and Indian
Reverse: Elements from Rhode Island State Seal
1936 Robinson-Arkansas Centennial Tercentenary

Robinson-Arkansas Centennial Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portrait of Joseph T. Robinson
Reverse: Arkansas State Seal
1936 Wisconsin Territorial Centennial

Wisconsin Territorial Centennial Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Badger
Reverse: Arm, pickaxe, and ore mound
1936 Bay Bridge San Francisco-Oakland

Bay Bridge San Francisco-Oakland Half Dollar
Year: 1936
Obverse: Grizzly bear
Reverse: San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
1936 Long Island Tercentenary

Long Island Tercentenary Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portraits of Dutch settler and Algonquin Indian
Reverse: Sailing ship
1936 York County, Maine Tercentenary

York County, Maine Tercentenary Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1936
Obverse: Brown's Garrison
Reverse: York County Seal
1936-1939 Arkansas Centennial

Arkansas Centennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1936
Obverse:
Reverse: Arkansas State Seal

Arkansas Centennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1939
Obverse: Portraits of Miss Liberty and Indian
Reverse: Arkansas State Seal
1936 Albany, New York Charter

Albany, New York Charter Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1936
Obverse: Beaver
Reverse: Three standing historical figures
1936 Lynchburg, Virginia Sesquicentennial

Lynchburg, Virginia Sesquicentennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1936
Obverse: Portrait of Carter Glass
Reverse: Standing figure of Miss Liberty
1937 Roanoke Island, North Carolina

Roanoke Island, North Carolina Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1937
Obverse: Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh
Reverse: Ellinor Dare and her baby, Virginia
1937 Battle of Antietam

Battle of Antietam Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1937
Obverse: Portraits of generals McClellan and Lee
Reverse: Burnside Bridge
1938 New Rochelle, New York

New Rochelle, New York Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1938
Obverse: John Pell and fatted calf
Reverse: Fleur-de-lis
1938 Daniel Boone Bicentennial

Daniel Boone Bicentennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1938
Obverse: Portrait of Daniel Boone
Reverse: Standing figures of Boone and Indian
1934-1938 Texas Centennial

Texas Centennial Half Dollar Silver
This commemorative coin celebrated the 100th anniversary of Texas Independence.
Year: 1938
Obverse: A Lone Star behind the eagle.
Reverse: A winged Liberty cradling the Alamo, birthplace of Texas
1946 Iowa Centennial

Iowa Centennial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1946
Obverse: Old Stone Capitol at Iowa City
Reverse: Eagle adapted from the Iowa State Seal
1946-1951 Booker T. Washington Memorial

Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar Silver
Year: 1946
Obverse: Portrait of Booker T. Washington
Reverse: Hall of Fame and slave cabin
1951-54 George Washington Carver-Booker T. Washington

George Washington Carver-Booker T. Washington Half Dollar
Year: 1951
Obverse: George Washington Carver, at observer's left, and Booker T. Washington, on a larger scale
Reverse: The American Legion badge

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