1936 Gettysburg Half Dollar
Another Confusing Anniversary
To observe the seventy-fifth anniversary of one of the most celebrated Civil War conflicts, the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Congress on June 16, 1936, provided for the neologism of not more than 50,000 silver half dollars to be produced of a single design and smitten at a unmarried batch. The seventy-fifth anniversary was to be held in 1938, but once again the promoters sniffed an contiguous profit and plainly could not wait. The Commission in the first place requested 20,000 coins from Philadelphia, 15,000 from Denver, and 15,000 for San Francisco to make up the quantity, an idea that was rejected. The coins were dated 1936, a year completely irrelevant to the situation .
Design and Distribution
The Pennsylvania State Commission, located at the Hotel Gettysburg in Gettysburg, hired Frank Vittor, a Philadelphia artist, to prepare designs. On the obverse two busts were depicted, one of a Confederate and the early of a Union soldier. The dedication, BLUE AND GRAY REUNION, referred to an consequence scheduled for July 1-3, 1938. The reversion showed two shields, one representing the Union and the early the Confederacy, divided by a fasces, with the date 1936 below. The dates 1863-1938 were to the left and correct at the surround .
In June 1937, 50,028 coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint. frankincense we have a situation similar to that of the Delaware one-half dollar : a mint date 1936 strickle in 1937 for an consequence scheduled to take place in 1938, still another disgraceful example of commemorative half dollar exploitation. Paul L. Roy, administrator secretary of the Pennsylvania State Commission, held out the promise that he would have Denver and San Francisco coins until the identical end, when he reluctantly told those who had ordered sets of three different coins that he would send them three examples all from the like mint ( philadelphia ). Refunds were offered to anyone not wanting that quantity. Single coins were priced at $ 1.65 .
By May 15, 1937, Paul L. Roy mailed a postcard containing the blatant lie that the write out had been oversubscribed : “ This will advise you that the 50,000 Gettysburg commemorative half dollars will be issued from the Philadelphia Mint merely …. Because of the large oversubscription and the frightful demand, which we will not be able to fill, we will appreciate your limiting your decree to your actual needs in rate that all who desire may secure one of the modern one-half dollars …. “ ( Postcard to H. J. McCloskey postmarked May 15, 1937. Bowers and Merena Galleries Reference Collection. )
The reunion between the Blue and the Gray finally took place as scheduled in 1938, and among those in attendance was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. Commemorative half dollars were among the souvenirs on sale there.
In correspondence with the author, Art Leister recalled the event ( Letter dated April 2, 1991. ) “ My mother took me to this reunion at Gettysburg when I was eight years old. I remember the suprisingly many uniform old soldiers from both sides with their white beards and rifles and back packs. They camped out in tents. There was a world dressed to resemble Abe Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address from a platform built on the like place it was in the first place delivered .
“ I remember we had to park about two miles out of town and walk in because it was thus crowd. That evening we watched the light of the Eternal Peace Light. It was impressive and a little chilling for a boy of eight trying to encompass for the beginning time all of the mean of the Civil War. ”
In August 1938 it was reported in The numismatist that Paul L. Roy had announced that the unsold balance of the Gettysburg coins had been turned over to the American Legion – Department of Pennsylvania for far distribution. The american Legion raised the price from $ 1.65 each to $ 2.65 in the hope that this would make the coins appear to be rare and a full investment. 23,100 remained unsold and were subsequently melted .
While collectors considered the Gettysburg half dollar to be of pleasing blueprint and appearance, interest was less than usual ; for by the time they were available for sale in 1937, the commemorative commercialize had faded.
Collecting Gettysburg Half Dollars
The 1936 Gettysburg half dollars, properly called Battle of Gettysburg half dollars, are democratic with collectors today. Examples are fairly plentiful on the market. Most specimens seen today are in lower Mint State ranges, from about MS-60 to MS-63. MS-64 and MS-65 coins are available but are reasonably more elusive .
grade compendious : Most coins show scattered contact marks which are most apparent on the impudence of the soldiers on the obverse and, on the revoke, on the two shields ( particularly at the lead of the Union harbor on the exit side of the mint ). Most Gettysburg half dollars are very frosty and glistening .