HomeUS CoinsGrade This 1936-S Cincinnati Commemorative Silver Half Dollar

Grade This 1936-S Cincinnati Commemorative Silver Half Dollar


This week, CoinWeek has a 1936-S Cincinnati Commemorative half dollar silver coin for you to grade.

PCGS graded this coin and it features attractive toning.

The Cincinnati silver half dollar was authorized amongst a flood of commemorative half dollar bills that passed through Congress in 1936. It was a notorious issue that was created for the benefit of one man: Cincinnati coin promoter Tom Melish, who distributed the commemorative through a confederacy of insiders for the purpose of self-enrichment.

The Cincinnati Musical Center Commemorative Coin Association pushed for the creation of the coin – but this organization was a fiction established by Melish to lend credibility to the proposed coin program.

Congress passed the bill in January and February 1936, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation into law on March 31. The coin was distributed starting in August of that year.

An Interesting Design Nonetheless

The coin’s obverse features composer Stephen Foster, who only tangentially has anything to do with Cincinnati, and certainly didn’t compose any of his songs there.

The reverse features the goddess of music strumming a lyre. Constance Ortmayer is credited with the design.

Most Cincinnati halves were lightly struck, and many feature marks on Foster’s cheek area. Nearly all are toned to some degree – with blast white ones likely having been dipped. This one has attractive color. Not exactly A+ toning, but the coin’s color adds to its eye appeal.

The Cincinnati was struck at all three mints then operating and of the three, the San Francisco Mint examples seem to be of the poorest quality. This is an S-mint example.

So what grade do you give this coin? And how much do you think it is worth?

Leave your grades in the comments and we’ll be back next week to let you know if you were right.

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Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker’s 100 Greatest Modern World Coins has gotten five-star reviews on Amazon and Lou Golino and David T. Alexander both gave the book their highest recommendations.

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