David Hall: The 1936 Cincinnati commemorative half dollars were struck in very limited quanties at all three Mints. A little over 5,000 coins were distributed for the 1936, 1936-D and 1936-S Cincinattis. This commemorative was a totally contrived issue. It was supposed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Cincinnati as "a center of music, and its contribution to the art of music for the past 50 years." It featured the obverse bust of Stephen Foster. The only problem was that no one outside of the few promoters of the Cincinnati halves viewed Cincinnati as a music center in the United States and Stephen Foster spent only a very short time in the city and didn't write any of his famous songs there. Nonetheless, the Cincinnatis were struck and offered at $7.75 for the three coin set. But very few sets were sold to the public as most of the original mintage went to a small group of insiders. The value of the Cincinnati set almost immemdiately went to $40 to $50, netting the original conspirators a nice profit. By 1939/1940 they were back down to $15.
Despite the dubious origins, Cincinnati commemoratives are quite popular with collectors today. They should probably be considered semi-common to semi-scarce in grades of MS63 to MS66. Superb MS67 examples are definitely scarce. Interestingly, though the three coins have identical mintages, the 1936-D is far more populous than the 1936 and the 1936-S is rarer still. The 1936 Philadelphia Mint Cincinnati is semi-common in all grades up to MS67, and it's scarce in the top grade of MS67. The 1936 has a semi-frosty, somewhat satiny luster and comes either white or with varying degrees of toning.
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