US Coins

Original commem lot tops MS-68 prices

Although not offered as Mint State 68, five 1936 York County, Maine, Tercentenary half dollars in their original holder of release, all colorfully toned with apparently undisturbed original surfaces, reached levels expected of coins in grading service slabs with the Mint State 68 grade or higher.

However, none of the five commemorative coins that crossed the auction block July 17 at Centennial Auctions was graded and encapsulated by a third-party grading service. Centennial’s lead auctioneer, Steve Schofield, says the auction house often prefers not to have coin lots graded and encapsulated, instead letting potential buyers evaluate the coins themselves and bid accordingly.

New information on the 1866-S No Motto Coins”New information on the 1866-S No Motto coins: Also in our last weekly issue of the month, John Kraljevich Jr. goes into what George Washington's ledger revealed, including how many gold doubloons he had on hand.

The lot of five York County half dollars, consigned by a family who only recently discovered the coins, realized $17,825. The coins were housed in the four-sided, slotted cardboard holder with historical information in which York National Bank issued the coins, priced at $1.50 per coin, in 1936 from its Saco, Maine, premises.

The toning on the silver commemorative half dollars apparently is the result of the coins being housed in their original cardboard packaging, undisturbed for years.

The average price of $3,565 per coin exceeds the value for MS-68 examples in published price guides, including Coin World’s Coin Values, as well as prices realized for examples of the commemoratives in MS-68 in major coin auctions.

Connect with Coin World:  

Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

July 17 auction bidding began at $8,000 after numerous interested parties made absentee bids.

“I knew that the coins were exceptional, but never expected this kind of result,” Schofield said. “It shows the power of an auction. The family is still amazed at the price.” 

The five coins were only recently discovered by the family, for whom Centennial sold a coin and stamp collection a year ago. Their existence was unknown until this spring when the family was cleaning out a dresser and discovered the .900 fine silver coins in the back of one of the drawers.

The coins apparently had been purchased by a family member upon the commemorative coin release in 1936.

The family was not sure whether the coins were worth anything, but decided to contact Schofield anyway. After viewing cell phone photos of the coins sent by the family, Schofield said he told the family not to do anything with them and immediately drove over to meet the family within an hour of being notified of the coins’ existence.

Congressional legislation enacted June 26, 1936, authorized the release of no more than 30,000 commemorative half dollars struck at a single Mint, in this case, Philadelphia.

The Committee for the Commemoration of the Founding of York County selected Portland, Maine, artist Walter Rich to execute the adopted designs.

The obverse depicts the original settlement of Brown’s Garrison, the site in Saco on which York National Bank was chartered in 1803; a rising sun in the background and a horse and rider in the foreground. The design is based on artwork in Frank C. Deering’s 1931 work, The Proprietors of Saco.

The reverse illustrates the York County seal, depicting a cross within a shield, with a pine tree at the upper left.

Single coins, at $1.50 each, were packaged in paper coin envelopes, with two different slotted insert folders capable of holding five coins each. Coins shipped to out-of-state buyers were $1.65 each postpaid.

The total mintage was 25,015, which included 15 coins for assay purposes. 

Community Comments