Early Commemorative Coin Mintages

Early commemorative coins issued between 1892 and 1954 experienced a wide range of mintages. Some issues had a mintage of just a few thousand pieces, while others exceeded one million coins. The absolute lowest mintage issue was the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition $50 Gold Piece, with 645 octagonal and 483 round coins distributed.

The varying mintage levels were driven by a number of factors, one of which was the maximum or minimum level specified within authorizing legislation. For certain issues, the maximum was established at a level lower than actual demand, resulting in the entire mintage being sold out. In other cases, the maximum was too high, leaving the coins to be sold and sometimes minted for several years after the original release. In certain situations, a particularly low mintage was encouraged by the organizers behind the commemorative issue to foster higher prices on the secondary market.

The number of commemorative coins released during a particular year also had an impact on sales trends and resulting mintages. For example, in 1936 an outpouring of different issues led to an over saturation of the market and poor sales as collectors cut back or only selectively purchased offerings. In later years, a lengthy gap in releases led to pent up demand and higher sales for certain issues.

Other important factors were the theme of the commemorative or the circumstances of its distribution. Certain issues such as the Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar were heavily promoted in order to raise money for a particular cause. A wider participation by banks and other channels of sale led to higher sales and greater distribution.

As opposed to other series, low mintages for individual early commemorative coins are less significant than low mintages for a particular design. For example, many of the designs produced for multiple years and mint marks eventually saw mintages of just a few thousand pieces. While these do command premiums, they are viewed as less important than several issues produced for only a single year with a limited mintage. The three half dollars with mintages of about 10,000 each are the Old Spanish Trail Half Dollar, Hawaiian Sesquicentennial Half Dollar, and Hudson Sesquicentennial Half Dollar.

Included below are mintage figures for early commemorative coins. These figures represent the net distribution, generally comprising the total mintage less the number returned for melting.

Columbian Half Dollar
1892 950,000
1893 1,550,405
Total 2,500,405
Isabella Quarter
1893 24,214
Lafayette Dollar
1900 36,026
Louisiana Purchase Exposition Jefferson Gold Dollar
1903 17,500
Louisiana Purchase Exposition McKinley Gold Dollar
1903 17,500
Lewis and Clark Exposition Gold Dollar
1904 10,025
1905 10,041
Total 20,066
Panama Pacific Exposition $50 Gold Piece
1915-S Round 483
1915-S Octagonal 645
Total 1,128
Panama Pacific Exposition Quarter Eagle
1915-S 6,749
Panama Pacific Exposition Gold Dollar
1915-S 15,000
Panama Pacific Exposition Half Dollar
1915-S 27,134
McKinley Memorial Gold Dollar
1916 15,000
1917 5,000
Total 20,000
Illinois Centennial Half Dollar
1918 100,058
Maine Centennial Half Dollar
1920 50,028
Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar
1920 152,112
1921 20,053
Total 172,165
Missouri Centennial Half Dollar
1921 “2*4” 9,400
1921 11,400
Total 20,800
Alabama Centennial Half Dollar
1921 “2X2” 30,000
1921 35,000
Total 65,000
Grant Memorial Gold Dollar
1922 Star in Field 5,016
1922 5,016
Total 10,032
Grant Memorial Half Dollar
1922 Star in Field 4,256
1922 67,405
Total 71,661
Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollar
1923-S 274,077
Huguenot-Walloon Tercentenary Half Dollar
1924 142,080
Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
1925 162,013
Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar
1925 1,314,709
California Diamond Jubilee Half Dollar
1925-S 86,594
Fort Vancouver Centennial Half Dollar
1925 14,994
Sesquicentennial of American Independence Quarter Eagle
1926 46,019
Sesquicentennial of American Independence Half Dollar
1926 141,120
Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar
1926 47,955
1926-S 83,055
1928 6,028
1933-D 5,008
1934-D 7,006
1936 10,006
1936-S 5,006
1937-D 12,008
1938 6,006
1938-D 6,005
1938-S 6,006
1939 3,004
1939-D 3,004
1939-S 3,005
Total 203,102
Vermont Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
1927 28,142
Hawaiian Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
1928 10,008
Maryland Tercentenary Half Dollar
1934 25,015
Texas Independence Centennial Half Dollar
1934 61,463
1935 9,996
1935-D 10,007
1935-S 10,008
1936 8,911
1936-D 9,039
1936-S 9,055
1937 6,571
1937-D 6,605
1937-S 6,637
1938 3,780
1938-D 3,775
1938-S 3,814
Total 149,661
Daniel Boone Bicentennial Half Dollar
1934 10,007
1935 10,010
1935-D 5,005
1935-S 5,005
1935, 1934 on reverse 10,008
1935-D, 1934 on reverse 2,003
1935-S, 1934 on reverse 2,004
1936 12,012
1936-D 5,005
1936-S 5,006
1937 9,810
1937-D 2,506
1937-S 2,506
1938 2,100
1938-D 2,100
1938-S 2,100
Total 87,187
Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar
1935 25,018
Arkansas Centennial Half Dollar
1935 13,012
1935-D 5,505
1935-S 5,506
1936 9,660
1936-D 9,660
1936-S 9,662
1937 5,505
1937-D 5,505
1937-S 5,506
1938 3,156
1938-D 3,156
1938-S 3,156
1939 2,104
1939-D 2,104
1939-S 2,105
Total 85,302
Robinson-Arkansas Centennial Half Dollar
1936 25,265
Hudson Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
1935 10,008
San Diego California Pacific Exposition Half Dollar
1935-S 70,132
1936-D 30,092
Total 100,224
Old Spanish Trail Half Dollar
1935 10,008
Rhode Island Tercentenary Half Dollar
1936 20,013
1936-D 15,010
1936-S 15,011
Total 50,034
Cleveland Centennial Half Dollar
1936 50,030
Wisconsin Territorial Centennial Half Dollar
1936 25,015
Cincinnati Music Center Half Dollar
1936 5,005
1936-D 5,005
1936-S 5,006
Total 15,016
Long Island Tercentenary Half Dollar
1936 81,826
York County Tercentenary Half Dollar
1936 25,015
Bridgeport Centennial Half Dollar
1936 25,015
Lynchburg Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
1936 20,013
Elgin Centennial Half Dollar
1936 20,015
Albany Charter Half Dollar
1936 17,671
Bay Bridge Half Dollar
1936-S 71,424
Columbia Sesquicentennial Half Dollar
1936 9,007
1936-D 8,009
1936-S 8,007
Total 25,023
Delaware Tercentenary Half Dollar
1936 20,993
Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar
1936 26,928
Norfolk Bicentennial Half Dollar
1936 16,936
Roanoke Half Dollar
1937 29,030
Battle of Antietam Half Dollar
1937 18,028
New Rochelle Half Dollar
1938 15,266
Iowa Centennial Half Dollar
1946 100,057
Booker T. Washington Half Dollar
1946 700,546
1946-D 50,000
1946-S 500,279
1947 6,000
1947-D 6,000
1947-S 6,000
1948 8,005
1948-D 8,005
1948-S 8,005
1949 6,004
1949-D 6,004
1949-S 6,004
1950 6,004
1950-D 6,004
1950-S 62,091
1951 210,082
1951-D 7,004
1951-S 7,004
Total 1,609,041
George Washington Carver Half Dollar
1951 20,018
1951-D 10,004
1951-S 10,004
1952 1,106,292
1952-D 8,006
1952-S 8,006
1953 8,003
1953-D 8,003
1953-S 88,020
1954 12,006
1954-D 12,006
1954-S 42,024
Total 1,332,392