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HomeUS Coins1991-P Korean War Memorial Dollar Proof : A Collector's Guide

1991-P Korean War Memorial Dollar Proof : A Collector’s Guide

1991-P Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar. Image: U.S. Mint / CoinWeek.
1991-P Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar. Image: U.S. Mint / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The 1991-P Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar Proof is a commemorative coin issued to honor the 38th Anniversary of the July 27, 1953 signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement that ended three years of war between North Korean communists led by Kim Il Sung (backed by the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union) and South Korean authoritarian Syngman Rhee, who rose to power with the backing of the United States. The coin was authorized by Public Law 101-495 (PDF link), passed on October 31, 1990. The law authorized the production of up to 1,000,000 commemorative silver dollars in Proof and Uncirculated condition with proceeds going to help fund the creation of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C..

Korean War Veterans Memorial Park. Image: Adobe Stock.
Korean War Veterans Memorial Park. Image: Adobe Stock.

The coin’s obverse was designed by future United States Mint Chief Engraver John M. Mercanti, while the reverse was designed by Mint engraver T. James Ferrell.

First Strike Ceremony

The official first strike ceremony for the 1991 Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar was held on May 6, 1991, at the Philadelphia Mint. Treasurer of the United States Catalina Vasquez Villalpando introduced the coin to those in attendance. Among those present were Mint Director Donna Pope, Chairman of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board General Richard Stilwell, representatives of the Korean embassy, and several veterans groups. Also present was American Numismatic Association (ANA) President Kenneth Hallenbeck.

Coins were struck by members of AMVETS, Catholic War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, EX-POW, Grim Reapers, Jewish War Veterans, Korean War Veterans Association, Korean EX-POW, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America, RAKKASANS, Rangers, Retired Army Nurses, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Yin-Yang Controversy

While not a major dust-up, a letter published in Coin World from a reader named Dr. Eglund called into question the use of the yin-yang symbol on the Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar. Englund (wrongly) asserted that the religious symbol was some new-age Satanic symbol. What a rube!

How Much Is the 1991-P Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar Proof Worth?

The Mint charged $31 for the Philadelphia Proof commemorative and $26 for the Denver Uncirculated version. The $7 surcharge per coin contributed to the construction of the Korean War Memorial.

Examples in Original Government Packaging do not carry a significant premium over the coin’s bullion value. A survey of hundreds of eBay sales completed between March and May 2024 shows prices ranging from $20 to $30 per coin. A premium of about $10 is typically paid for certified examples in Proof 69, while Proof 70 coins sell for between $100 and $150 each.

The combined population of NGC and PCGS Proof 70 coins has increased 10-fold since Anthony Swiatek published his Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States in 2012.

It is interesting to note that major auction houses like Heritage and Stack’s Bowers are not likely to offer modern commemorative issues with low values for sale on their auction platforms, while online auction website GreatCollections is. Internet stalwart eBay remains the most reliable source for consistent offerings of graded modern commemorative coins.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS PR70DCAM (214, 5/2024), NGC PF70UC (276, 5/2024), and CAC PR70DCAM (1, 5/2024).

  • NGC PF70UCAM: eBay, April 30, 2024 – $106.38
  • NGC PF70UCAM: eBay, April 2, 2024 – $152.50.
  • NGC PF70UCAM: eBay, March 15, 2024 – $159.99
  • NGC PF70UCAM: eBay, Marh 6, 2024 – $124.50
  • NGC PF70UCAM: eBay, March 5, 2024 – $96.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #20940950: GreatCollections, February 4, 2024, Lot 1516336 – View.

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Design

Obverse:

The obverse depicts a soldier charging up a hill, with naval ships in the foreground and F-86 aircraft flying overhead. Eight stars are positioned at the rim from 12 o’clock to just about 3 o’clock. In the left obverse field are three inscriptions: THIRTY EIGHTH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIVE, KOREA, and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Overlaid in the silhouette of the sloping earth is the dual date 1953 1991. The word LIBERTY appears in the exergue. Mercanti’s stylized engraver’s signature is located in front of the bottom ship’s bow.

Reverse:

The center of the design represents the Korean peninsula, with North Korea shaded by diagonal lines and South Korea shaded by a solid raised surface. The Taegeuk (태극), a Korean national symbol, is depicted over the South Korean territory. It is their interpretation of the Chinese yin and yang symbol. A line through the center of the map depicts the 38th parallel. To the right of the map is the head of an American bald eagle.

Three inscriptions are present. ONE DOLLAR wraps around the top of the design, an unusual placement for a coin denomination. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA wraps around below. At the 9 o’clock position in the left field is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The P mintmark of Philadelphia appears below the eagle’s head. Designer T. James Ferrell’s initials TJF are located above the second S of STATES.

Edge:

The edge of the 1991-P Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar Proof is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1991
Denomination: One Dollar (USD)
Mintmark: P (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 618,488
Alloy: .900 Silver, .100 Copper
Weight: 26.73 g
Diameter: 38.10 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John Mercanti
REV Designer: T. James Ferrell
Quality: Proof

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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