Commemorative Coins from 1892-1954

The 1892 Columbian Exposition half dollar was the first commemorative coin authorized by Congress. From 1892 through 1954, subsequent legislation authorized the U.S. Mint to produce commemorative coins for 53 different events, occasions, or individuals. This resulted in the Mint producing over 180 silver and gold commemorative coins.

As early as 1925, many in Congress expressed concern over bills introduced to “…commemorate events of local and not national interest…” After extensive hearings on the “objectionable practices and abuses related to the issuance of special coins”, as published in House Report No. 101, issued February 27, 1939, Congress passed legislation prohibiting “…the issuance and coinage of certain commemorative coins…” (Public Law No. 278-76th Congress – Approved August 5, 1939), which also halted the issue of all commemorative coins already approved.

With the exception of Acts signed on August 7, 1946, for the Iowa Centennial and Booker T. Washington half dollars, and an amendment to one of these in 1951 for the (George Washington) Carver-(Booker T.) Washington half dollar, no further coins were authorized. Produced from 1951 through 1954, the Carver-Washington half dollar was the last of the pre-modern commemorative coin programs.

Content last updated on