I saw that the United States Mint is selling a new commemorative
gold $5 U.S. coin honoring Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
This isn’t the first time the general has appeared on U.S.-struck
coins, though, is it?
Gen. Douglas MacArthur famously exclaimed “I shall return” upon
leaving the Philippines during World War II, heading to Australia
after the Japanese invasion of the island chain. Gen. MacArthur made a
triumphant return later in the war during the Oct. 20, 1944, invasion
After the war, he made his debut on two silver coins of the
Philippines, a .750 fine 50-centavo piece and .900 fine peso issued in
1947 commemorating his importance as commander of the forces that
defended and liberated the islands.
The two coins were not issued by the United States, but they were
struck at the San Francisco Mint and bear a design by famed sculptor
Laura Gardin Fraser.
These were the first coins struck for the new Republic of the
Philippines. Although released after the U.S. obligation had
officially concluded, the two coins are nonetheless of major U.S. interest.
The Philippine Islands were a U.S. commonwealth for part of the
20th century. During this time, the Manila Mint was a Branch Mint of
the U.S. Treasury Department. It was not uncommon, though, for
Philippine coins to be struck at other U.S. Mint facilities, chiefly
the San Francisco plant.
The coins were little noted in contemporaneous hobby literature,
as Richard Giedroyc found when exploring the topic for Coin
World (Dec. 22, 1997, issue).
The Numismatist lists the coins in new coin issues without comment
The entry on Page 52 of Annual Report of the Director of the Mint
for 1948 merely acknowledges 100,000 1-peso and 200,000 50-centavo
coins struck for the Philippines without mentioning the coins were
commemorative or were struck at San Francisco.
These low-relief coins were weakly struck, Giedroyc wrote.
Two additional Filipino commemoratives show Gen. MacArthur, a
25-piso coin from 1980 and a 5-piso coin from 1994, both commemorating
the Leyte landing.
The Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation sells examples of the
50-centavo coin from 1947 (as well as 3.125-inch diameter bronze
duplicates of the 1962 congressional gold medal presented to
MacArthur) through its gift shop. World and U.S. coin dealers often
have the 1947 coins for sale, with the 1-peso coin recently available
from one dealer for about $30 and the 50-centavo coin for about $20.
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