Representing the first commemorative coin to sell the full maximum authorized mintage, the 1918 Illinois Centennial Half Dollar depicting Abraham Lincoln was immediately popular with collectors and the public. This commemorative silver half dollar would be the first of many issued to mark the anniversaries of states, counties, and municipalities throughout America.
The obverse of the Illinois Centennial Half Dollar features a portrait of Abraham Lincoln designed by George T. Morgan after a statue by Andrew O’Connor. This status was created specifically for the the centennial and would be unveiled in Springfield in August 1918. On the coin, a young, beardless Lincoln is depicting in profile, facing right. Inscriptions read “Centennial of the State of Illinois”, “In God We Trust”, “Liberty”, and the date “1918”.
The reverse of the coin was designed by John R. Sinnock after the Illinois State Seal. An eagle is depicted with one talon on a shield and a ribbon in its beak. The ribbon contains the words “State Sovereignty National Union”. The motto “E Pluribus Unum” appears near a rising sun behind the eagle. The words “United States of America” and “Half Dollar” are surrounding. The border of both the obverse and reverse of the coin is created by a pattern of beads and pellets.
As mentioned, the entire authorized mintage of 100,000 coins was sold with none returned to the Mint for melting. The final mintage is listed as 100,058 to include the 58 coins struck for assay purposes. The coins were sold to the public for $1 each by the Illinois Centennial Commission.
Today, the 1918 Illinois Centennial “Lincoln” Half Dollar represents one of the most popular classic commemorative coins due to the depiction of Lincoln by George T. Morgan.
Illinois Centennial Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Designer: George T. Morgan (obverse), John R. Sinnock (reverse)
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 65-163
Maximum Authorized Mintage: 100,000
Illinois Centennial Half Dollar Mintage