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Coin of the Month

1986 Statue of Liberty Half Dollar

Cheerio, my friends! For this month's coin, we'll be dipping into the past, but not the very distant past.  The year 1876 was the 100th anniversary of the year our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.  As a monument to that event and to the partnership between France and the United States in the Revolutionary War, a French sculptor created a colossal statue he called "Liberty Enlightening the World."

Ten years after the 1876 centennial, New York's harbor became the home to the statue we commonly know today as the Statue of Liberty.

Fast forward another 100 years, and you come to 1986, the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.  Three coins were created to honor Lady Liberty at that time.  We're looking at the half dollar coin.  There was also a dollar and a gold five-dollar coin.

Some important August events are associated with the Statue.

  • August 2, 1834:  The statue's sculptor and designer, Auguste Bartholdi, was born in France.
  • August 1876:  The arm and torch of the statue arrived for display at a Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, celebrating the 100th anniversary of American independence.
  • August 5, 1884:  The cornerstone was laid on Bedloe's Island in New York for the pedestal on which the statue stands.
  • August 1885:  The full amount of funds was finally raised so the pedestal could be finished.  The disassembled statue had arrived by boat in June of that year.
  • August 2004:  The pedestal was reopened to the public, closed since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the nearby World Trade Center.

The Statue was built in Paris in 1884, then taken apart for its ocean voyage.  In 1886, Bartholdi was in New York to oversee the Statue's assembly on its new pedestal.

Both of the designs on this coin refer to immigrants arriving by boat to make a new home in America.  Bartholdi had hand-picked Bedloe's Island because immigrants would see the statue as they sailed past it to enter the country.  The island's name was later changed to "Liberty Island," its name today.

And so we have a coin that honors a symbol of freedom known throughout the world.

—Inspector Collector

Inspector Collector

Teacher Feature

Image shows the front of the Statue of Liberty half dollar.
Obverse:  The obverse shows a side view of the statue and an immigrant ship entering New York harbor as the sun rises.

Image shows the back of the Statue of Liberty half dollar.
Reverse:  The subject on the back is an immigrant family with their belongings on a dock.




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