The Error Collector's Blog

01 Mar 2022

Laura Gardin Fraser

Young Numismatists Exchange | The Error Collector

Laura Gardin was born on September 14, 1889. When she was little, she went to Morton Park schools. Laura later attended school in Rye, New York then the Horace Mann School in New York City. James Fraser taught her at the Art Students League of New York. She and James fell in love and were married.

After she married James Earl Fraser, she designed 1921 Alabama centennial half dollar. It was made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Alabama's admission into the Union. The obverse depicts Portraits of William Bibb and Thomas Kilby facing left. William Bibb was Alabama's first governor and Thomas Kilby was the governor at that time. Thomas Kilby and was the first live person to be on a US commemorative coin. 22 stars are in the field because Alabama was the 22nd state to enter the Union. A variety with 30,000 minted showing "2X2" behind the portraits were also produced. TheReverse depicts the Alabama seal which portrays an eagle with raised wings, holding arrows in its talons and a scroll in its beak the scroll has the state motto. The state seal was changed in 1939. The total mintage number was 100,000 pieces. 70,000 were minted and 5,000 were returned to the mint to be melted. The sale price was $1.00 each.
Laura went on to design other coins. In 1922 Laura Gardin Fraser designed the Grant Memorial Half Dollar to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Ulysses S. Grant. The Obverse depicts a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant facing right in a military uniform. The reverse depicts a wooden house representing Grant's birthplace in Point Pleasant, Ohio. There is a fence in front of the home and maple trees surrounding the house.

The money from the sale of the coin was to renovate the Grant birthplace and acquire land surrounding the home. 250,000 pieces were minted.

The Grant Memorial Half Dollar has two varieties. The variety with a star in the field initially sold for $1.00 and later $1.50, the star has no significance and appears above the letter "N" in Grant. The Plain variety initially sold for $1.00 and later $0.75

In 1925 Laura designed the Fort Vancouver Centennial Half made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fort Vancouver being found and to pay for the celebration held in the city of Vancouver, Washington. The obverse depicts a bust of Dr. John McLoughlin, the founder of Fort Vancouver His name appears beneath his image. Thereverse depicts a trapper holding a gun. Behind the trapper is Fort Vancouver and Mount Hood. They were sold for 1 dollar each. The maximum number authorized was 300,000 pieces, 50,000 were struck but 35,034 were returned to the mint to be melted. Even though they were minted in San Francisco no mintmark appears.

Laura and James collaborated together to design the Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar. It was minted from 1926-1939 to commemorate the Oregon Trail and to raise money for markers at important points along the existing trail. Laura Gardin Fraser designed the reverse. Thereverse depicts a Native American standing erect. He is wearing a headdress and is carrying a blanket and bow. There is a map of the United States with a line of wagons heading west in the background.

TheMaximum Number minted was 6,000,000 coins for the entire issue. Only 264,250 were minted and 61,317 were returned to the mint. They were sold from $1.00 to $2.00 for individual pieces. The Oregon Trail Half Dollar was the first commemorative coin minted at Denver.

In 1932 Laura Gardin Fraser's design for the Washington Quarter were going to be used but the US Mint director Robert Grant chose John Flanagan's design instead. In 1999 her design was used for the Washington death bicentennial and this year (2022) the obverse will be used for the quarter! The obverse of of her 1932 design depicts a portrait of George Washington and the reverse depicts a heraldic eagle.







Level 4

Good blog. I enjoyed reading it. Cool coins!


Level 5

LGF was a tremendous artist who was passed over too many times for we all know why.


Level 7

Coins by Gary has taught us so much about L.G.F. I became interested and bought a medal and a coin. A great sculpture. Many statues were made by her. A terrific woman .Thanks for the blog!

Long Beard

Level 5

Great research, right to the point.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I wrote an earlier blog about her Alabama centennial Design. She was the first woman to design a US coin. Excellent blog, thank you


Level 5

I just wrote a blog about LGF’s quarter design and how it won back in 1932. This is agreat blog. Thanks for sharing the information!


Level 6

Really well written blog! LGF is so interesting indeed! Amazing woman. ; )


Level 5

Thanks for such a well written and informative post. It was a pleasure reading it from start to finish! Now I’ll have to go check out Gary’s link for sure! Thanks again for sharing!

AC coin$

Level 6

Nice informative blog, great dates in coins collection, nice work.


Level 6

Nicely done work. You got a way to go from Gary. I hope you know how great that is. On this subject he is the go to guy. Thanks.


Level 5

Thank you for this well-written and researched blog. I am delighted to see the current surge in interest in everything concerning Laura Gardin Fraser. I have extensively researched Laura Gardin Fraser's life and her work. Two medals in my collection have the pedigree of being owned by the Frasers. As I usually do, I provide a link to my collection in NGC's registry. Follow the link to the description page and the gallery tab to the collection. My write-ups are sourced, and I am glad to see you have done likewise in this blog. If you notice the Grant Dollar, you will notice the die clash marks on both the obverse and reverse. In fact, you can see the outline of Grant's forehead on his house! https://coins.www.collectors-society.com/wcm/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=19449


Level 6

Amazing sets Gary. Thanks for the link. I do believe I will be giving all of your sets a look. May take a while.

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