The 1936 Elgin Centennial Half Dollar was issued for the purpose of raising funds to construct a Pioneer Memorial Statue in Elgin, Illinois. The amount raised through the commemorative coin sales would ultimately fall short of the funds necessary to complete the project. The statue would eventually be completed and dedicated more than six decades later in 2001.
The obverse of the Elgin Half Dollar features the profile of a pioneer facing left. This is a detail view from one of the pioneers who appears on the reverse. Inscriptions include “Pioneer” widely spaced above, “In God We Trust” in a line divided by the portrait, and the dates “1673” and “1936” below. The first date refers to the year when Louis Joliet and Jacques Margquette entered Illinois. The second date is the year of issue. The actual centennial dates of Elgin, Illinois (1835-1935) do not appear on the coin.
The reverse design is an image of the Pioneer Memorial statue, which was intended to be constructed using funds raised from coin sales. The statue was designed by Trygve Rovelstad, who also designed the coins. Four adult pioneers and an infant are pictured, representing pioneers who settled the area in 1935. The inscriptions include “United States of America”, “Pioneer Memorial”, “Elgin Illinois”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and “Half Dollar”.
Although initially a maximum authorized mintage of 10,000 coins was sought, the enacted legislation called for 25,000 coins. This entire amount would be struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Distribution of the coins was handled by L.W. Hoffecker, whose handling of the 1935 Old Spanish Trail Half Dollar had caused controversy. The coins were offered for $1.50 each. Ultimately 20,000 coins were sold and the rest were returned to the Mint for melting.
Elgin Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Designer: Trygve Rovelstad
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 74-688
Maximum Authorized Mintage: 25,000
Elgin Half Dollar Mintage