An Incredibly Rare Prooflike Cincinnati Commemorative

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by physics-fan3.14, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    The Cincinnati Commemorative is one of the less popular issues in an unpopular series, but it also has one of the lowest mintages of all the classic commemoratives. It is considered one of the keys of the series.

    Many of the classic commemoratives were pure cash grabs on the part of the person or people who pushed for them. The Cincinnati is one of the most egregious of these. It commemorates a made-up event, there was no exposition or celebration, and the promoter basically pocketed the money. Nominally, it celebrated 50 years of Cincinnati as a center of music. (I'm sure our friend @leeg can provide a riveting story to go with this coin!)

    The coins were minted at each of the three mints, Philly, Denver and San Fran. Mintage was limited to 5,000 at each mint. Of these, only 2 have been designated as Prooflike! This particular example was included in the legendary Bagne collection of prooflike commemoratives - and now it's buried deep in my collection. NGC called this MS-64 PL when it was graded a dozen years ago - but I think this could easily be a 65PL today.

    So, what do you think?

    IMG_0012.JPG IMG_0041.JPG cincinnati obverse small.gif cincinnati reverse small.gif
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  3. BuffaloHunter

    BuffaloHunter Short of a full herd

    Very nice example! That thing really does pop! With today's grading, I could certainly see this one getting bumped up.
    CoinBlazer likes this.
  4. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    Very pretty, but.. the ticks on the cheek - obv & leg- rev may hold it back
  5. Pickin and Grinin

    Pickin and Grinin Well-Known Member

    Absolutely gorgeous.
    I think it could possibly upgrade, just not sure I would take the gamble.
  6. longshot

    longshot Enthusiast Supporter

    Do you agree that it is clearly PL? Doesn't a pop of 2 make you think there should be more out there or does a polished die give it up that quickly? Just wondering...
  7. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    Yes, I think it is clearly PL. In the Heritage sale of the Bagne collection, they described this coin as "Strongly reflective with a touch of cartwheel luster on the obverse and a distinct halo effect on the reverse."

    As for the Pop 2: the PL effect on a die does not last for very long. Some dies last longer, and if it starts as a very deep mirrored prooflike you'll get more strikes before it is no longer PL. Modern dies have a polished chrome finish to prolong the life of the die, and these will strike many more PLs than classic dies like this Cincinnati. It is likely that, out of the 5,000 coins struck, less than a hundred had prooflike or semi-prooflike surfaces.

    So, the mirrors don't usually last long on a die. Combine this with, many coins were not saved or stored appropriately, so a few of the PL coins might now be damaged, cleaned, circulated, or otherwise impaired. There's also always a chance that there might be some examples out there which have never been submitted.

    For many, many of the issues known in PL (classic commems, Merc dimes, Washington quarters, etc), there are less than 5 designated for that date.
    Troodon and longshot like this.
  8. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Nice example Jason.

    The series may be unpopular but I still feel like I pay too much for an unpopular series......'buy' prices ain't flat at all.
  9. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    Oh, I know that I paid *way* too much for this coin. But I'm ok with that.
    green18 likes this.
  10. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    I've got all three Cinncy's but they 'pale' to your prooflike. Mine are raw, too.

    I didn't know that 'Bagne' was legendary.....I picked up a Columbian 'prooflike' from that collection (local show) about 5 years ago.
  11. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    Bagne's collection of Prooflike Commemoratives was vast and impressive. He had numerous duplicates in many grades of almost all issues known in PL (including many of the finest known). There were 170 PL commems in the Heritage sale (as far as I know, that's the largest collection of PL coins ever sold). In my mind, that's legendary!

    You can see the 2009 sale here:
  12. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Pretty coin, but PL ? Not to my eyes. For me a coin has to meet the reflectivity standard to warrant PL and that one just doesn't seem to do it. The coin's got great luster, I take nothing away from it in that regard. But I just don't think an image would be reflected in that surface. Could I be wrong ? Sure, but the pics are all we got to go by and that's what I'm going by.
  13. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    I like it.

  14. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Sold my PL Commems a couple months ago.

    Did ok.

    A little something about the Cincinnati:

    Approved by Congress on March 31, 1936 and issued in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Cincinnati, Ohio, as a center of music, and its contribution to the art of music for the past fifty years.


    Obverse: Bust of Stephen Foster to right; below in small letters STEPHEN FOSTER, AMERICA’S TROUBADOUR; around upper border in large letters UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; around lower border, HALF DOLLAR; in left field, in direct line with the U in UNITED and nape of neck, the engraver’s initials C.O. in monogram.

    Reverse: Draped form of a woman playing a lyre; in upper left field, 1936; in exergue in three lines, IN GOD WE TRUST – E PLURIBUS UNUM – LIBERTY; around border in large letters, CINCINNATI. A. MUSIC. CENTER. OF. AMERICA.

    Designed by Miss Constance Ortmayer of Washington, D.C. and distributed by Thomas G. Melish, president of the Cincinnati Musical Center Commemorative Coin Association. During July, 1936, the entire authorized issue of 15,000 Cincinnati, Ohio, Musical Center half-dollars were coined at the three mints as follows: Philadelphia 5,005; Denver 5,005; San Francisco 5,006.

    In 1926, a commemorative issue for Stephen Foster had been suggested by Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the centennial of his birth in 1826 in that city. He was the composer of ‘Old Folks at Home,’ ‘Oh Susannah,’ ‘Old Kentucky Home,’ Nelly was a Lady,’ etc.

    Due to the limited coinage authorized and the fact that the commemorative half-dollar wave was at its peak, the entire issue was over-subscribed prior to the release of the first set. These pieces were sold in sets only, in printed cards. The price per set was established at seven dollars and seventy-five cents-a new high level for the initial cost of a new type. A number of sets were released with special numbers signifying the order in which they were coined.

    The Cincinnati Musical Center issue is extraordinary in that the anniversary celebrated bears no relation to the portrait of Foster on the obverse, as Foster died in 1864, twenty-two years prior to the founding of the Liederkrantz Musical Society in 1886.

    FDR Coin.png

    Part of a collection of coins, tokens, paper money, etc., received from President Roosevelt on May 29, 1941. Courtesy bequest of Franklin D. Roosevelt, FDR Library MO 1941.40.4.4.

    As on the Bridgeport issue, the three phrases required by law to appear upon the coinage are relegated to an unimportant position and are seen in small letters.

    It is interesting to observe that despite the very limited authorization of only 15,000 half-dollars, the phrase ‘at the Mints’ was inserted. At this period, the authorizing Acts read: ‘to be coined by the Director of the Mint---the Cincinnati issue was the very last Act authorizing a coinage of souvenir half-dollars with the specific provision that the pieces shall be coined ‘at the mints.’

    “We have received from the Cincinnati Musical Center Commemorative Coin Association the following details of the coins which will be struck for it:

    ‘The bill has passed both the Senate and House and was signed by President Roosevelt on April 1. The design of the coin has been made by Miss Constance Ortmayer, an artist and sculptress of Washington, D.C., who has a national reputation. The obverse shows the head of Stephen Foster, who, as you know, wrote such outstanding ballads as ‘Suwannee River,’ ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ ‘Oh, Suzanna,’ ‘Nellie Was a Lady,’ and many others.

    ‘There are many details to be arranged before the coins will be issued. It takes almost a month to cut the master die. The coins will be struck at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints. As the issue is limited, and quite a quantity will have to be reserved for the musical enthusiasts all over the country, the number for numismatists will be exceedingly limited. We believe, however, there will be enough to go around.’”1

    1 The Numismatist, Editorial Comment – Numismatic News, Commemorative Coins, May, 1936, p. 359.
  15. bsowa1029

    bsowa1029 Franklin Half Addict

    That’s a nice looking coin. I do also like the design.
    I could see it in a 65 holder, but would prefer it in that older holder.
    I’m sure it is PL but I’m not seeing it in the photos or gif.
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