1936 cincinnati music center Banner

1936 Cincinnati Music Center Half Dollar


 1936 Cincinnati Music Center Obverse       1936 Cincinnati Music Center Reverse

Click the images above for enhanced view.




To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Cincinnati, Ohio, as a center of music, and its contribution to the art of music for the past 50 years.


Maximum Number Authorized: 15,000 pieces.


Sale Price: $7.75 per set of three coins.




    Obverse – Constance Ortmayer

A bust of Stephen Foster facing right. Below the bust is the inscription “STEPHEN FOSTER AMERICA’S TROUBADOUR.” The designer’s initials are located at the nape of Foster’s neck.


Online Resource: https://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/Fosterbiography.htm


   Reverse – Constance Ortmayer

A kneeling figure, representing the goddess of music. She is holding a lyre with both hands. The date 1886 is located in the left field. Around the coin’s border near the edge is the inscription “CINCINNATI A MUSIC CENTER OF AMERICA.”




15,000 dollars were struck for the public. 5,000 each were struck at the Denver, San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints. The coins were sold as a set of three and none were returned to the Mint.




  • Stephen Foster lived most of his life in New York and Pittsburgh. He did write songs during the three years he lived in Cincinnati but spent most of his time working as a bookkeeper for his brother’s company. It is believed that he wrote “Oh! Susanna” while living in Cincinnati.

  • The date 1886 that appears on the reverse of the coin bears no historical music significance.

  • Stephen Foster died in poverty at the age of 37. At the time of his death, he had 38 cents in his pocket and a scrap of paper that read, “Dear friends and gentle hearts.”

  • It is believed that members of the Cincinnati Musical Center Commemorative Coin Association held back many half dollars, claiming that they were sold out. The coins were then released at a dramatically higher price to collectors.


For more information:


Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States by Anthony J. Swiatek 

KWS Publishers (2012)


Commemorative Coins of the United States Identification and Price Guide by Anthony J. Swiatek

Amos Press Publishers (2001)


The Life and Songs of Stephen Foster: A Revealing Portrait of the Forgotten Man Behind “Swanee River,” “Beautiful Dreamer,”and “My Old Kentucky Home”  by JoAnne O’Connell

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2016)




Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States by Anthony J. Swiatek

KWS Publishers (2012)


The Encyclopedia of United States Silver & Gold Commemorative Coins 1892 to 1954 by Anthony Swiatek and Walter Breen


Arco Publishing, Inc. (1981)



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