US Coins

CAC names winner of Fancaster Challenge

The following is a release from Certified Acceptance Corp.

Amanda Varner has won the CAC Fancaster Challenge and claims the grand prize, a Gem Professional Coin Grading Service MS-65 CAC stickered Columbian half dollar.

Varner’s video featured a poetic interpretation of the Columbian Exposition half dollar and received the highest rating at the close of the competition.

John Albanese, founder and president of CAC reports: "Ever since I was a kid, the Columbian Exposition coin was one of my favorites. It's Christopher Columbus, what else do you need to know?"

In fact, in 1892, the Columbian Exposition coin is the first commemorative coin released by the U.S. Mint.

The coin was issued by the Bureau of the Mint in 1892 and 1893, to raise funds for the World's Columbian Exposition, held in 1893, and to mark the quadricentennial of the first voyage to the Americas of Christopher Columbus, whose portrait it bears. The Columbian half dollar was the first American coin to depict a historical person.

The coin stems from the desire of the Columbian Exposition's organizers to gain federal money to complete construction of the fair. Congress granted an appropriation, and allowed it to be in the form of commemorative half dollars, which legislators and organizers believed could be sold at a premium.

Fair official James Ellsworth wanted the new coin to be based on a 16th century painting he owned by Lorenzo Lotto, reputedly of Columbus, and pushed for this through the design process. When initial sketches by Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber proved unsatisfactory, fair organizers turned to a design by artist Olin Levi Warner, which after modification by Barber and by his assistant, George T. Morgan, was struck by the Mint.

Some 5 million half dollars were struck, far beyond the actual demand, and half of them were melted. The appropriation did not cure the fair's financial woes, as fewer than 400,000 were sold at the premium price, and some 2 million were released into circulation, where they remained as late as the 1950s. The pieces can be purchased in circulated condition for less than $20. Coins in near-pristine state sell for about $1,000, far less than the $10,000 the makers of the Remington typewriter paid as a publicity stunt in 1892 for the first specimen struck.

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