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A Complete Set of U.S. Silver Commemoratives with the Wow Factor


One of the most underrated and underappreciated series is the U.S. commemorative minted between 1892 and 1954. Commemoratives were produced to celebrate a special historical event or occasion. Generally, they were issued as souvenirs to be sold at a premium above face value. They are different from commemorative medals because they have a face value and are legal tender. However, their design is different from the circulation issue with the same denomination.

The 144-piece silver commemorative set includes all the 50 different type coin commemoratives issued from 1892 through 1954, plus each date and mintmark of the multiple issues. This popular series is filled with low-mintage coins, including the lowest mintage silver coins of the 20th century. Most commemoratives are mint state, as they are what is called NCLT, or non-circulating legal tender. Key issues of the series are the Hawaiian, Hudson, and Spanish Trail (low mintage type coins) and the Sesqui and Monroe (condition rarities), plus the Lafayette dollar among many others.

The J & L Collection, which is listed in the PCGS Set Registry®, may be one of the most beautiful sets of U.S. commemoratives ever assembled. The J & L Collection has now surpassed two Hall of Fame sets, The Heller Collection (inducted in 2002) and Bruce Scher (inducted in 2012). The Current Finest Possible Set Rating for this 144-coin set is 69.092. The J & L set sits at 68.684, just a few points away from perfection. 77% of the coins in the set are "Top Pop" and 27 are the single finest ever graded. Add those statistics in with the fact that the coins are beautifully toned and you have a collection with the "WOW" factor.

The owners of the J & L Collection, John and Linda, found that the Grant Star, Hawaii, Hudson, Lafayette, Lexington, Missouri, Monroe, and Sesqui in “Top Pop,” were the most difficult to locate. But perseverance paid off because three of these coins, the Grant Star, Lexington, and Monroe, are the single finest graded.

1922 50C Grant Star, PCGS Gold Shield MS67+, Pop 1/0
Commemorating: Centennial of the birth of Ulysses S. Grant

1925 50C Lexington, PCGS Gold Shield MS68+, Pop 1/0
Commemorating: 150th anniversary of the battle of Lexington and Concord

1923-S 50C Monroe, PCGS Gold Shield MS67+, Pop 1/0
Commemorating: Centennial of the Monroe Doctrine 1823-1923

The collectors’ top five favorite coins in the set are the 1936 Cleveland, 1926 Oregon Trail, 1920 Pilgrim, 1937 Roanoke, and 1936 Wisconsin. "When asked to pick our favorite five, it took Linda and me more than an hour to settle on these. I am sure that anyone who looks at both the PCGS type sets and the 144-coin complete set will come up with a different list. I love toned coins. Each commemorative has its own way of toning. The toning, of course, comes from the sulfur and other gases given off from the different types of holders in contact with the coins over a long period of time. This is also dependent on humidity, which is why the study and collection of holders and envelopes is so important," John stated.

The J & L Collection is a perfect example of what collectors can achieve when they put their hearts into their hobby. PCGS is honored to display John and Linda’s beautiful set of commemoratives at the World’s Fair of Money ANA Show in Philadelphia, August 14-18, 2018 and again in September 6-8th at the Long Beach Coin Expo. Please stop by the PCGS booth at these shows and see why this collection has the "wow" factor.

1936 50C Cleveland, PCGS Gold Shield MS68, Pop 1/0
Commemorating: Centennial of the incorporation of Cleveland, Ohio and Great Lakes Exposition

1926 50C Oregon Trail, PCGS Gold Shield MS68+, Pop 1/0
Commemorating: The Oregon Trail and the pioneers who traversed it during the early 19th century

1920 50C Pilgrim, PCGS Gold Shield MS68, Pop 2/0
Commemorating: 300th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims

37 50C Roanoke, PCGS Gold Shield MS68, Pop 23/1
Commemorating: 350th anniversary of the establishment of a colony sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh on Roanoke Island, North Carolina

1936 50C Wisconsin, PCGS Gold Shield MS68+, Pop 7/0
Commemorating: 100th anniversary of the establishment of the territorial government in Wisconsin
BJ Searls is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a Master’s in Business Administration. She has been involved in numismatics since 1973 and has worked for Collectors Universe since 1997. BJ is the Set Registry and Special Projects Director for PCGS, PSA and PSA/DNA. Email: [email protected].

Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)