thatcoinguy's Blog

06 Aug 2022

1892/1893 Classic Commemoratives

| thatcoinguy

Classic Commemoratives are (debatably) one of the most popular US coin series. They were first issued during the World's Columbian Exposition in 1892, which was hosted in Chicago, Illinois. About two in five Americans attended the fair, which made the fair an incredible success. During this fair, two denominations of commemorative coins were struck: quarters, and half dollars. These coins mark the beginning of the classic commemorative series, and are both beautiful and stunning collectables.

The Isabella Quarter, as it is commonly known, is the only classic commemorative with a face value of 25 cents. It was only dated 1893, unlike its half dollar counterpart which was dated 1892 as well. The Isabella quarter raised money for the Board of Lady Manager's projects. Queen Isabella is part of a select group of individuals who are portrayed on US coinage, but not actually native to the country. Queen Isabella is on the commemorative quarter because she sponsored the voyage of Christopher Colombus, who "discovered" America (even though the Native Americans had already been in the country for thousands of years. The quarters were produced so that the mint only made as many as was needed, and the rest were melted down. The coins sold poorly, which was probably due to the fact that the half dollar had the same issue price ($1), but was a bigger denomination and size. Only 24,214 coins escaped into the public, but they could have made up to 40,000. Charles Barber designed the obverse, which Goerge T. Morgan designed the reverse. These coins are quite expensive now, which is probably due to the fact that not many were issued.

The World's Columbian Exposition half dollar, on the other hand, was very popular. Featuring the discoverer" of America Christopher Columbus on the obverse, and his ship the Santa Maria on the reverse, these coins were also issued and sold for $1. The half dollar was designed by Olin Lewis Warner. Although the coins were dated 1892 and 1893, all of the half dollars of both dates were distributed in 1893, alongside the Isabella quarter. These were favored over the quarter, and 950,00 1892 coins were sold, along with 1,550,405 of the 1893 versions. There were also 200 proof coins struck, 100 for each date. After the fair, there were over 3 million coins left, which the government placed into circulation, or melted. Because of this, circulated World's Columbian Exposition half dollars are not hard to find, and it is not unheard of to find one in a roll of half dollars, even today. These are the cheapest classic commemoratives, and are very common at coin shows, and even in dealer's junk silver bins.

Keep collecting,




Level 7

I'm sorry I missed this but someone has written so many blogs they get lost. This of course is a great coin. I have them and I like them. It brings so much history to us. You have done another good blog. And its an old comment to me. Done in the great style of the others. Keep up the good work.


Level 5

The Columbia’s Exposition Half dollar may be pretty cheap in AU condition but once it gets to around MS-65 they can go for way more than some other commemorative half dollars. This series is definitely popular right now.

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