1892-1893 World’s Columbian Exposition Half Dollar
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To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ journey west and raise funds for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Maximum Number Authorized: 5 million pieces.
Sale Price: $1.00
Obverse – Charles Barber
Portrait bust of Columbus facing right. The portrait is a likeness based on descriptions of Columbus as no verifiable portrait of Columbus was known to be painted while he was alive. Barber’s initial is found on the left truncation of the collar.
Reverse – George Morgan
The flagship Santa Maria sailing west. Two hemispheres appear below the ship. “14” is found next to the left hemisphere and “92” to the right hemisphere. The date of the coin is at the bottom. Designer Morgan’s initial is located at the lower right edge of the center sail.
Online Resource: http://www.christopher-columbus.eu/portraits.htm
When the Columbian Exposition closed, over 3 million Columbian half dollars remained unsold. The Treasury Department initially offered the coins for sale at face value but eventually placed many in circulation and melted the rest. Circulated Columbian half dollars are considered very common.
Columbian Exposition Online Resource:
The exposition was over 600 acres in size.
Over 27 million people, about half the U.S. Population, attended the fair.
Walt Disney’s father, Elias Disney, was employed as a construction worker at the exposition.
The first Ferris Wheel, built by George Ferris, was constructed. The wheel had 36 cars with each car holding up to 60 people. A band occupied one car and would play whenever the wheel was in motion.
Elongated coins were introduced at the exposition.
Cream of Wheat debuted at the Columbian Exposition.
The Pabst Brewing Company named its beer Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer after the award of “America’s Best” at the Columbian Exposition.
Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict, a company that owned the rights to the Remington typewriter, bought the first coin struck for $10,000 dollars as a publicity stunt.
For more information:
Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States by Anthony J. Swiatek.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Crown Publishing (2002)
Contesting Images, Photography and the World’s Columbian Exposition by Julie K. Brown
The University of Arizona Press (1994)
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)