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From the October 2005 issue of ACCent, the newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club:


New Commems On The Horizon

By Mike Nourse


    Have you opened an issue of Numismatic News lately? Writer, lawyer, and politician David Ganz of Fair Lawn, New Jersey does a great job of keeping an eye on the numismatic happenings in Washington D. C. He gives regular updates concerning the bills making their way through congress that are seeking to authorize new commemorative coinage programs. It is always amazing to see how many groups are trying to have commemoratives issued to generate funds for their pet project.

    Well, flashback to January 1937. Mr. Ganz would be suffering from a rough case of carpel tunnel syndrome typing up a report on all of the new commemorative issues that are being proposed. As numismatists, we are all very familiar with the flood of commemorative half dollars that were issued during the decade of the 1930’s. Well, for every commemorative half that was issued, there were bunches that did not make the cut. Here is a sample, excerpted from the February 1937 issue of the Numismatic Scrapbook.

The February 1937 issue of Numismatic Scrapbook

    ‘The new Congress lost no time in indulging in a favorite legislative sport – introducing bills for the coining of commemorative fifty cent pieces. A flood of bills have been introduced already and the new Congress is only one month old. Copies of the following bills have been received from our Washington correspondent, Mr. Boosel.

1.     Fort Peck Dam. Calls for 5,000 pieces of years 1937 and 1938.

2.     International Peace Gardens. A hold over from last year. Asks for 100,000 coins with one date but produced at all three mints.

3.     160th Anniversary of Washington at Morristown, New Jersey, 10,000 pieces.

4.     150th Anniversary of  the Constitution. Proposed as a circulating commemorative.

5.     Booneville Dam. 50,000 Pieces for the year 1937 only.

6.     Cincinnati Music Center. Calls for an additional 15,000 1936 coins and 30,000 1936 with a small 1937 similar to the Boone 1935 – 34.

7.      Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. 100,000 Pieces to be dated 1940.

8.      New York World’s Fair. Mintage not specified.

9.      Dr. Charles Steinmetz, 25,000 pieces.

10.     Battle of Antietam, 50,000 pieces. This is another bill that failed to pass in the last session and is being re-introduced.

11.     Wilkinsburg, PA, 25,000 pieces.

12.     Sesquicentennial of General Benjamin Logan expedition, 25,000 pieces.

13.     100th Anniversary of Montgomery, Alabama, 50,000 pieces.

14.      150th Anniversary Northwest Territory, 25,000 pieces.

15.      Toledo, Ohio centennial, 25,000 pieces. If passed, this one will be distributed by Mr. Melish, a prominent coin dealer of the era.

16.     300th Anniversary of Norfolk, Virginia, not less than 50,000 pieces.

17.      Port Chester, New York, 25,000 pieces. Commemorates the changing of the name from Sawpit to Port Chester.

18.      Grover Cleveland, 25,000 pieces. Sponsored by the Caldwell, New Jersey Coin Club and requests that coins be produced at all three mints.

19.     University of Louisville, Kentucky, not less than 50,000 pieces.

20.      160th Anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, 25,000 pieces.

21.      San Francisco Bay Bridge. Bill seeks to reduce the authorized mintage from 200,000 to 100,000, and to have the date 1937 appear on the coins no matter what year they are actually produced.

The 1936-S San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge commemorative half dollar. There were none made in 1937, and the total mintage for 1936 came in at 71,424 pieces, all appropriately coined in San Francisco.

     Well, folks, that is the wish list of commemoratives for the year 1937, as it stood in January of that year. Thank goodness we now have in place a limit of two commemorative programs per year, otherwise we would be seeing lists similar to the above in the various numismatic publications.

     Those of you that are familiar with the classic commemorative series will recognize that some of the above actually made it through the system and were actually issued. The vast majority, of course, did not come to be.

     The Numismatic Scrapbook magazine had a column each month during this era that covered the commemorative coin action in Washington D. C. Students of numismatic history probably recognized the name of the Washington correspondent noted above as Mr. Harry X Boosel, the author of many numismatic articles in a variety of publications over a time frame of many decades. He made an extensive study of the coinage of the year 1873, and was thus known as Mr. 1873.

     The interesting thing is that with all these commemoratives being issued, they appear to be a really hot sector of the numismatic market of the time. Looking through my issues of the Scrapbook from the late 1930’s, a measurable percentage of the advertising space is taken up by ads seeking to buy and / or sell commemorative half dollars.

Lots of fun looking at coin collecting as it was decades ago!


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