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United States commemorative coin

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Title: United States commemorative coin  
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Subject: 50 State Quarters, United States Bicentennial coinage, Half Eagle, United States Mint, United States dollar
Collection: Commemorative Coins of the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

United States commemorative coin

The United States has minted numerous commemorative coins in remembrance of particular persons, places, events, and institutions. These coins are legal tender but are not intended for general circulation.[1]


  • History 1
  • Circulating commemorative coins 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Many consider the 1848 2½ dollar gold piece counter stamped "CAL" to be the first U.S. commemorative coin, as it commemorated the finding of gold in California.[2]

Most standard lists begin with the 1892 half dollar commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to America. The following year, the Columbian Exposition quarter dollar featuring Queen Isabella of Spain was issued.[3]

Most students of U.S. commemorative coinage acknowledge the gap between 1954 and 1982 by classifying those minted from 1892 to 1954 as Early Commemoratives,[4] and those minted since 1982 as Modern Commemoratives.[5]

1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

In 1925, a commemorative 50-cent coin was released that showed Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Money raised from the sale of the coins was combined with money raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association in order to fund the carving of a Confederate monument at Stone Mountain.[6]

The U.S. Mint was criticized for commemorative issues of dubious recognition and seemingly endless mint runs. As an example, the Carver 50-cent piece.[3]

Circulating commemorative coins

Westward Journey Nickel Series. The reverses struck in 2004 (top two) and 2005 (bottom two)

Circulating commemorative coins have been somewhat more unusual in the United States. These are coins that are minted to commemorate a particular person, place, event, or institution, but are intended to enter general circulation.

In 1932, the 200th anniversary of the birth of regular issue coinage design.

In 1975 and 1976, the Washington quarter was also used to commemorate the United States Bicentennial with a circulating commemorative. The Kennedy half-dollar and Eisenhower dollar also featured commemorative designs for circulation during these two years. (All U.S. Bicentennial commemoratives were dated 1776–1976, despite being produced throughout 1975-76.)

More recently, the State Quarters program began in 1999 with five different circulating commemoratives each year, with reverses for each of the 50 States in the order of their admission to the union. In 2007, six quarters commemorating the District of Columbia, two commonwealths, and three territories were added to the program for issue in 2009.[7][8]

Birth and early childhood in Kentucky cent, 2009
Birth and early childhood in Kentucky (Lincoln Bicentennial, 2009)

Lincoln Bicentennial Formative Years in Indiana cent, 2009
Formative Years in Indiana (Lincoln Bicentennial, 2009)

Lincoln Bicentennial Professional life in Illinois cent, 2009
Professional life in Illinois (Lincoln Bicentennial, 2009)

Lincoln Bicentennial Presidency in DC cent, 2009
Presidency in DC (Lincoln Bicentennial, 2009)

In 2004–2005 the mint issued four commemorative nickel five cent pieces in the Westward Journey Nickel Series, celebrating the 200th anniversaries of the Louisiana Purchase and the Corps of Discovery.

In 2009, four commemorative one cent pieces were issued to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Beginning in 2010 and continuing through at least 2021, a new series of quarters, the America the Beautiful Quarters,[9] was issued to recognize America's National Parks, with five quarters issued per year. When this program is completed, 23 years will have passed in which all quarters minted were commemorative.

The value of commemorative coins depends primarily upon the condition, scarcity and composition of the coin. See coin grading.

See also


  1. ^ "The United States Mint Coins and Medals Program". 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  2. ^ "1848 $2½ CAL. MS68 NGC Liberty Quarter Eagles". Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  3. ^ a b "The United States Mint · Mint Programs". Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  4. ^ "Early United States Commemorative Coins". Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  5. ^ "The United States Mint · Mint Programs". 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "The United States Mint Coins and Medals Program". Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  8. ^ "The United States Mint · About The Mint". 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  9. ^ "United States Mint". America the Beautiful Quarters. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 

External links

  • Complete histories of over 50 US Commemoratives.
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