US Coins

Pastel shades make Wisconsin half dollar desirable

Strong prices for classic commemorative coins continue to be seen at auctions and on the bourse floor. The silver commemorative coins of 1892 to 1954 have long been popular with collectors, but none among them is rare in an absolute sense. The diversity of the commemorative half dollar series is appealing to collectors, with standalone one-year types alongside multi-year issues like the Arkansas Centennial, Daniel Boone Bicentennial and Oregon Trail Memorial issues. Here are three pieces that stood out during Heritage Auctions’ sale held in conjunction with the April Central States Numismatic Society convention in suburban Chicago. Here's the second of the string of commemorative half dollars that we're profiling this week:

The Lot:

1936 Wisconsin commemorative half dollar, MS-68+ 

The Price:


The Story:

The Wisconsin Territorial Centennial half dollar is one of many commemorative coins struck in 1936, the most prolific year of the commemorative coin program. It marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Wisconsin Territory.

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The obverse and reverse design is a bit of a hodgepodge — reminiscent of some designs in the 50 State Quarter Dollar program — although many collectors are fond of the depiction of the badger. The disembodied arm holding a pickaxe above a pile of lead ore is less endearing.

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The Wisconsin half dollar issue was also well-struck, and despite the broad, plain fields, examples in high grades are commonly seen. One of six graded MS-68+ by Professional Coin Grading Service sold for $14,100 at an April 28 Heritage auction. Bidders responded to what Heritage described as “pastel shades of blue, green, rose, and gold over pristine surfaces,” noting, “A single mark on the badger’s back possibly prevents this coin from achieving an even higher grade.” No finer examples have yet been certified, though PCGS has graded several dozen in MS-68.

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