US Coins

Market Analysis: Top classic commemoratives

One of two 1936 Cleveland, Great Lakes Exposition commemorative half dollars graded MS-68 by PCGS, this CAC approved, beautifully toned stunner sold for $43,200 on March 25.

All images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

Classic commemorative coins of the 1892 to 1954 era continue to be a relatively sleepy part of the market at lower price points, but top-quality or unusual examples continue to excel at auction.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ March 25 Rarities Night session included three head-turners, like this 1936 Cleveland, Great Lakes Exposition half dollar graded Mint State 68 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. It sold for a whopping $43,200.

It is one of just two in this grade with none finer at PCGS. What made it stand apart was its rich color, with the cataloger observing “a blend of tangerine, violet, and olive-green iridescence,” adding, “These colors are emphasized by pearlescent underlying luster that softly cartwheels across each side.”

The issue is common among 1936 commemorative half dollars with a mintage of 50,030, and nice MS-64 examples can be had for under $100 in online auctions. The population thins at the top and PCGS has graded just 80 in MS-67, which can sell for about $1,000 at auction.

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