Commemorating: 400th anniversary of Columbus, landing in the New World; 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
Obverse motif: Portrait of Columbus Reverse motif: Ship and two globes
Authorization date: August 5, 1892 Dates on coins: 1892 (also 1492)
Date when coins were actually minted: 1892
Mint used: Philadelphia
Maximum quantity authorized: 5,000,000 (also includes coins dated 1893)
Total quantity minted (including assay coins): 950,000
Assay coins (included in above): Unknown
Quantity melted: None
Net number distributed (including assay coins): 950,000
Issued by: World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois (initial coins were distributed by the Jennings Trust Co., Chicago, and other Chicago banks; see text)
Standard original packaging: Apparently, no official packaging, but various banks (Merchants and Manufacturers National Bank, Pittsburgh, Pa.; The Paterson National Bank, Paterson, N.J.; and others) distributed coins in small, burgundy-colored leather holders (round and square in shape) with gold imprinting. Examples also exist with no bank reference but were imprinted with only "COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION" encircling" 1492 - CHICAGO - 1892"; Wells, Fargo & Co. (1892 only) and McConway & Torley Co. (Pittsburgh, Pa.) had special presentation holders, envelopes, and leather boxes with velour interiors made!
Official sale price: $1
Designer of obverse: Charles E. Barber from a plaster model by Olin Levi Warner, taken in turn from a Spanish medal.
Designer of reverse: George T. Morgan from a plaster model by Olin Levi Warner, taken in turn from a ship model.
Interesting facts: First legal tender U.S. coin to depict a foreigner; first commemorative half dollar; issued in connection with the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, a fair held a year late.
(average market prices)
1895 MS-60 to 63 55Â¢
1900 MS-60 to 63 60Â¢-$1
1905 MS-60 to 63 60Â¢-$1
1910 MS-60 to 63 60Â¢-$1
1915 MS-60 to 63 55Â¢-$1
1920 MS-60 to 63 75Â¢
1925 MS-60 to 63 75Â¢
1930 MS-60 to 63 75Â¢
1935 MS-60 to 63 $1
1936 (summer) MS-60 to 63 $1.25
1940 MS-60 to 63 $1
1945 MS-60 to 63 $1.25
1950 MS-60 to 63 $1.25
1955 MS-60 to 63 $2
1960 MS-60 to 63 $4
1965 MS-60 to 63 $6
1970 MS-60 to 63 $8
1975 MS-60 to 63 $25
1980 MS-60 to 63 $160
1985 MS-60 to 63 $280
1986 MS-60 $80, MS-63 $175, MS-64 $380; MS-65 $1,300
1990 (spring) MS-60 $75, MS-63 $500, MS-64 $1,425, MS-65 $3,850
1990 (December) MS-60 $55, MS-63 $380, MS-64 $800, MS-65 $3,200
Notes: Vast quantities of 1892 and 1893 Columbian half dollars were placed into circulation for face value, and examples did not command a significant premium on the collectors' market until decades later. This will explain why coins were available in 1895 for slightly over face value. For a long period of time dealers' prices ranged from slightly over face value to about $1. Even during the commemorative boom of the 1930s, Columbian half dollars were often omitted from dealers' advertisements, as the coins had little value or interest at the time.