Featured 1923-S Monroe Doctrine Half Dollar

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by leeg, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Just wanted to share a little bit about the history behind coin:


    During May (172,000) and June (102,000) 1923 was 274,077 coins that were minted at the San Francisco Mint. 77 coins were sent to the Assay Commission and nearly all went into circulation at face value (per U.S. Mint records). Chester Beach designed and modeled this issue. Distributed by W. L. Halberstadt, Director of Coin Distribution of The American Historical Revue and Motion Picture Industrial Exposition. Image courtesy of CRO, a coin in my collection.

    Approved by Congress on January 24, 1923 and issued to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the enunciation1 of the Monroe Doctrine.


    Obverse: Depicts James Monroe and John Quincy Adams with the names MONROE and ADAMS under the images. Around the rim it states UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – HALF DOLLAR. To the left it states IN GOD WE TRUST. To the right is the date 1923 with S below for San Francisco Mint where the coins were made.

    Reverse: Chester Beach’s description: Map of North and South America. North America is in the form of a draped figure carrying the laurel of Peace, reaching to South America, also a draped figure carrying a Horn of Plenty. Their hands touch at the Panama Canal. The West Indies are indicated. The current of the oceans are lightly shown. Between the dates 1823-1923 are a scroll and a quill pen, symbolizing the ‘Treaty.’ Monroe’s Administration was called the ‘Era of Goodfeeling and Understanding.’ MONROE DOCTRINE CENTENNIAL is around the top with LOS ANGELES around the bottom.

    The models for this coin were prepared by Chester Beach, who used for the reverse of this piece, the symbolic figures representative of the Americas. This motif had been less successfully employed on the badge of the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo in 1901. The coins were distributed by the Los Angeles Clearinghouse at $1 each.

    “On December 5 last a bill was introduced in the United States Senate by Senator Johnson, of California, authorizing an issue of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine. The bill, which was read and referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency, reads as follows:

    1. Enunciation - A formal announcement or statement: the enunciation of a doctrine.

    Original sketches for Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollar. Image courtesy of Stacks/Bowers Galleries.

    A BILL

    To authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine there shall be coined at the mints of the United States silver 50-cent pieces to the number of not more than three hundred thousand, such 50-cent pieces to be of the standard troy weight, composition, diameter, device, and design as shall be fixed by the Director of the Mint, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, which said 50-cent pieces shall be legal tender in any payment to the amount of their face value.

    SEC.2. That the coins herein authorized shall be issued only upon the request of the Los Angeles Clearing House and upon payment by such clearing house to the United States of the par value of such coins.
    SEC.3. That all laws now in force relating to the subsidiary silver coins of the United States and the coining or striking of the same, regulating and guarding the process of coinage, providing for the purchase of material and for the transportation, distribution, and redemption of the coins, for the prevention of debasement or counterfeiting, for security of the coin, or for any other purposes, whether said laws are penal or otherwise, shall, so far as applicable, apply to the coinage herein authorized: Provided, That the United States shall not be subject to the expense of making the necessary dies and other preparations for this coinage.

    The object of this issue of coins, other than the commemorative feature, is not stated in the bill. It provides that the coins shall be issued only upon the request of the Los Angeles Clearing House upon payment by it of the par value of the coins. Otherwise the bill is similar to those authorizing other recent commemorative half dollars.

    While the Doctrine enunciated by President Monroe in 1823 has never had legal standing, it has been upheld by the United States and respected by foreign governments for almost a century. The substance of the Doctrine has been taught in our public schools and all collectors are familiar with it. But at this time, in view of the proposed issue of coins, the words of President Monroe in declaring it as a principle of the United States Government will not be out of place. In his message to Congress, December 2, 1823, he said:

    ‘In the discussions to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangement by which they may terminate, the occasion has been deemed proper for asserting, as a principle in which rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power. * * * We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great considerations and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any- interposition for the purpose of oppressing them or controlling in any other manner their destiny by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.’

    When the recent project of a Hayes Commemorative Half Dollar was abandoned collectors were without a possible souvenir coin issue to look forward to. The past few years has brought to them several such issues, and all have been welcome. They have a historical value, and it is to be regretted the Government does not allow the public generally a greater degree of participation in such issues. For the collector they relieve the monotony of a collection of the United States mint issues.

    Of the seven commemorative coins struck since 1918, beginning with the Illinois half dollar, four have been in commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the admission of States to the Union, and three have been for other worthy purposes. There will be no opportunity for another issue in the former class until 1936, when Arkansas will have reached her one-hundredth year of Statehood. But as the commemorative coin idea has established itself so firmly in the United States, and as it does not seem difficult to obtain from Congress the necessary authority, there is no good reason why we should not continue to have such a coin every year or two, for there are many events in the early history of the country that are worthy of being commemorated by an issue of souvenir coins.

    The sesquicentennial of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence will occur July 4, 1926, and it is understood that an exposition is being planned to be held in Philadelphia during that year. It goes without saying that a coin-perhaps a set of coins-will be struck in commemoration of that great event in American history.

    One in a collection of twenty-four different commemorative U.S. half dollars and one quarter dollar (MO, each mounted in a cardboard and cellophane container so that each side of the coin may be seen. Part of a collection of coins, tokens, paper money, etc., received from President Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 29, 1941. Courtesy bequest of Franklin D. Roosevelt, FDR Library MO 1941-12-43-14.

    The bill authorizing the Monroe Doctrine Commemorative coin has been favorably reported, and unless obstacles are placed in the way it should pass Congress in ample time for the coin to be placed on the market before the actual centennial anniversary of the enunciation of the Doctrine arrives. It is an event of national significance, and it is hoped the design of the coin will be in keeping with the spirit of the occasion.”1

    1 The Numismatist, A Monroe Doctrine Commemorative Half Dollar, January, 1923, p. 23-24.

    Enjoy! More to follow.
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  3. thomas mozzillo

    thomas mozzillo Well-Known Member

    Very nice post. Thank you.
    leeg likes this.
  4. Paul_62

    Paul_62 Just takin' it one day at a time Supporter

    Great write-up. Thanks! This coin is one of my favorites, I have a couple, toned like the 2nd one of the two and always on the lookout for another one.
    leeg likes this.
  5. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Nice toning on that first coin.

    Congratulations on your first Featured Article.
    leeg likes this.
  6. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Variety Collector

    One of my favorite commemorative coins nice write up.
    leeg and lordmarcovan like this.
  7. robec

    robec Junior Member

    Great write up Lee!
    leeg likes this.
  8. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Thanks all!!


    I'll add more in the next day or two.
  9. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    The OP's (original poster) coin is in much better shape than mine.

    United States Half Dollar 1923-S - Monroe Doctrine Commemorative

    I posted an article on the Monroe Doctrine 1923 Half Dollar in 2016 which focused on the motion picture aspects of the coin.

    Monroe Doctrine 1923 Half Dollar, a Hollywood Production, Monroe Movie Tokens, posted Nov 28, 2016:



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  10. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    I love these in circulated condition.........
    leeg likes this.
  11. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

  12. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Variety Collector

    downloadfile-28.jpg downloadfile-38.jpg

    IMHO:::::::>>>> the reverse is one of the best "art deco designs" of this era!
  13. kSigSteve

    kSigSteve Active Member

    Fantastic write up!
    leeg likes this.
  14. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    Very good article. Thank you for the information!

    Weren't these U.S. commemoratives from this "classic" series the subject of dealers hoarding them and then reselling them at exorbitant prices?

    This "fleecing of the public" was mentioned in the 1981~1982 congressional debates over the scope and content of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics commemorative coins. Those who did not want private marketers to distribute and profit from the sale of these coins cited the classic commemorative coin sales.
  15. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Yes. Some were.
  16. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Courtesy of the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts

    Minutes of Meeting held in Washington, D.C., December 18 and 19, 1922.

    The following members were present:

    Mr. Moore, Chairman,

    Mr. Fraser,

    Mr. Ayres,

    Mr. Bacon,

    Mr. Mowbray,

    Mr. Medary,

    Also Mr. H. P. Caemmerer, Secretary and Executive Officer.

    Monroe Doctrine Centennial: Mr. Moore reported that officials of the Monroe Doctrine Centennial, to be held at Los Angeles in June, 1923, had consulted him regarding a design for a memorial coin, for which a bill has been introduced in Congress, and that the matter had been submitted to Mr. Fraser with the request that an artist be selected for making the design. The Exposition Committee agreed to the necessary expenditure ($1800) involved in preparing design, model and dies.

    Mr. Fraser stated that he thought it would be appropriate to select a sculptor from California for the work and accordingly would recommend Mr. Chester Beach, sculptor, of New York City, a native of California, as the designer. An acceptable model was received from Mr. Beach in the competition for the Peace Dollar.

    The Commission approved the selection of Mr. Beach for this work. On the obverse of the coin will appear portraits of Monroe and John Quincy Adams. For the reverse was suggested the Western Hemisphere in relief, but Mr. Fraser stated that he and Mr. Beach are of the opinion that figures representing North and South America would be promising of better results in the production of the coin. The Commission concurred in this suggestion. The legends usually required will appear on this memorial coin.

    Minutes of Meeting held in Washington, D.C., February 21, 1923.

    The following members were present:

    Mr. Moore, Chairman,

    Mr. Fraser,

    Mr. Ayres,

    Mr. Mowbray,

    Mr. Medary,

    Also Mr. H. P. Caemmerer, Secretary and Executive Officer.

    Monroe Doctrine Centennial Coin: Mr. Fraser submitted photographs of the model of the obverse and the reverse for the Monroe Doctrine Centennial Coin, which is being completed by Mr. Chester Beach, sculptor, of New York. On the obverse appears the heads of President Monroe and of his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, and on the reverse allegorical figures of North and South America; also the usual legends required on memorial coins.

    The Commission thought the design well executed and approved the same, with the suggestion that instead of having a curve at the base of the portraits, the sculptor make the line straight. Mr. Fraser stated that the sculptor would submit the completed model, or photographs thereof, to the Commission for transmission to the Director of the Mint.


    A comparison of Chester Beach’s preliminary obverse sketch above, with the adopted models, below, shows differences in the position of the conjoined heads, motto and presidents’ names. The reverses are nearly identical. The scroll on the reverse was changed also. Both images courtesy of the Commission of Fine Arts.
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  17. RonSanderson

    RonSanderson Supporter! Supporter

  18. awesomeitems

    awesomeitems Hobo Nickel Carver

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing!
    leeg likes this.
  19. NYandW

    NYandW Makes Cents!

    Thank you.
    leeg likes this.
  20. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    . . . Inquiry as to the purpose of the issue has brought a letter from F. B. Davison, Director-General, as follows:

    ‘I take pleasure in stating that the object of the proposed issue of Monroe Centennial souvenir half dollars is that we may use same for the purpose of raising funds with which to justify the great cost of reproducing the high lights of American history, which reproduction is to be advised by an historical commission composed of the heads of universities, colleges and secondary educational institutions in the State of California. Upon the presentation of these reproductions a series of educational films may be made as a contribution of civilization to be used in connection with our schools and other education agencies.’

    The above letter has the following heading: ‘Monroe Doctrine Centennial. First Annual American Historical Revue and Motion Picture Industrial Exposition, Commemorating the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, June 1, 1823, to June 30, 1923, Under the Direction and Supervision of the Motion Picture Industry.”2

    2 The Numismatist, Motion-Picture Industry Behind Commemorative Half Dollar, February, 1923, p. 62-63.

    “President Harding’s signature of Senator Hiram Johnson’s bill providing for the coinage of 300,000 half dollars commemorating the Monroe Doctrine Centennial, has removed the last possible obstacle confronting the American Historical Revue and Motion Picture Exposition in obtaining the fullest government co-operation for the motion picture industry’s project of staging a huge international celebration here next summer. The event, lasting a month, will be a great patriotic observance of the Monroe Doctrine’s hundredth anniversary.

    It is expected that the first of the new half dollars will be in circulation early in March. The design of the new coin will be worked out by the National Commission of Fine Arts in New York [sic]. The dies will be cast in the East, then probably sent to the government mint at San Francisco where the half dollars will be turned out for immediate shipment to Los Angeles. According to the tentative design for the new half dollar, it will bear the heads, in profile, of President James Monroe and his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, on one side; and on the other an outline of North, South and Central America, the territory whose integrity has been protected by the Monroe Doctrine for the past century.

    President Harding has given his fullest approval to plans for the Revue and Exposition. He is said to be planning a trip to the Pacific coast this summer so he can attend the formal opening of the event.”3

    3 The American Cinematographer, Official Washington’s Approval Of Exposition Indicated By Signing Of Memorial Coin Bill By President, March, 1923, p. 16.


    Letter to Chester Beach from W.L. Halberstadt, Director of Coin Distribution for the First Annual American Historical Revue and Motion Picture Industrial Exposition making Beach aware that the Monroe coins were available for purchase. Courtesy Stacks/Bowers Galleries.
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  21. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    How do i save this thread?
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