Classic Coins - Bridgeport CT
Centennial Half Dollar
In 1936, the US Mint produced the Bridgeport CT Centennial Half Dollar Classic Commemorative Coin to
recognize and honor the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Bridgeport as a city.
Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments,
On May 15, 1936, the second session of the 74th Congress approved an act which became Public Law
74-596 that authorized "the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the
incorporation of Bridgeport, Connecticut, as a city."
The law began, "That in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the city of
Bridgeport, Connecticut, there shall be coined at a mint of the United States to be designated by the Director of
the Mint not less than twenty-five thousand silver 50-cent pieces of standard size, weight, and composition and of
a special appropriate single design to be fixed by the Director of the Mint, with the approval of the Secretary of
the Treasury, but the United States shall not be subject to the expense of making the necessary dies and other
preparations for this coinage.
"SEC. 2. The coins herein authorized shall bear the date 1936, irrespective of the year in which they are minted
or issued, shall be legal tender in any payment to the amount of their face value, and shall be issued only upon
the request of the Bridgeport Centennial, Incorporated, Bridgeport, Connecticut, upon payment by it of the par
value of such coins. Such coins may be disposed of at par or at a premium by such Bridgeport Centennial,
Incorporated, and the net proceeds shall be used by it in defraying the expenses incidental and appropriate to the
commemoration of such event."
The law continues in Section 3 stating that all laws already in place applying to coinage shall also apply to
Characteristics - Bridgeport CT
Centennial Half Dollar
Metal Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Diameter - millimeters: 30.6
Diameter - inches: 1.2
Weight - grams: 12.5
Weight - troy ounce: 0.401884332
Silver content weight - troy ounce: 0.3617
Mint Locations: Philadelphia
Years Minted: 1936
The coin's silver content alone makes it more valuable than its face value of $0.50.
But, the coin's age, its condition, and its desirability make it even more valuable as a collectible.
The coin's estimated value ranges from $83 (low grade - XF) to $345 (high grade - MS-66).
Extraordinary characteristics on the Bridgeport CT Centennial Half Dollar can command a price outside the
estimated value range.
Obverse - Bridgeport CT Centennial Half
The obverse or front of the coin shows a portrait of a native son, P.T. Barnum, well known as a circus
The coinage inscriptions say, Bridgeport Connecticut Centennial, P.T. Barnum, and 1836-1936.
Artist: Henry Kreis
Reverse - Bridgeport CT Centennial Half
The reverse or back of the coin features a three-quarters back view of an art deco styled eagle with wings
folded and head raised.
The coinage inscriptions read United States of America, In God We Trust, E Pluribus Unum, Liberty, and Half
Artist: Henry Kreis
Commentary - Bridgeport CT Centennial
The stated mintage was "not less than twenty-five thousand silver 50-cent pieces" and "coined at a mint."
Records show the Philadelphia Mint produced 25,015 of the Bridgeport CT Centennial half dollar
coins - just 15 above the specified minimum number.
The coin pictured above resides in an NGC holder and is graded as an MS-65. (NGC, Numismatic Guaranty
Corporation, provides coin grading and certification services.)
Versions of the coin also exist across a variety of the grades.
At the time of the centennial celebration, Bridgeport considered P.T. Barnum one of their most famous
In addition to his business dealings, Barnum also served as the Mayor of Bridgeport in 1875 at the age of
In a July 1875 newspaper, the editor described Mayor Barnum's efforts to close the saloons on Sunday.
"For twenty years the saloons had been kept open on Sundays, and it was declared impossible to close them. Mr.
Barnum has all his life acted upon the quaint French aphorism that 'nothing is so possible as the impossible.' He
gave notice that the saloons must be closed."
Barnum's plan succeeded, and the editor concluded that most saloon-keepers favored closing on Sunday.
Phineas Taylor Barnum was born in Bethel, Connecticut on July 5, 1810.
At a young age, P.T. exhibited creativity in earning money. Years later, he said, "was clear to my mind
that my proper position in the busy world was not yet reached. I had displayed the faculty of getting money, as
well as getting rid of it; but the business for which I was destined…had not yet come to me."
David Hannum, a banker and Barnum's competitor for the Cardiff Giant, actually said the famous
quote, "there's a sucker born every minute," which is still attributed to Barnum after all these years.
Barnum pulled a fast one on Hannum in regards to the Cardiff Giant.
Hannum purchased the Cardiff Giant to take advantage of all people who wanted to see the large "man."
Barnum tried to purchase the giant from Hannum, but he would not sell.
Barnum had another giant made and told the newspapers that he had the original and Hannum's was fake.
When Hannum sued Barnum in court for calling his "original" giant fake, the actual originators of
the Cardiff Giant came forward to admit the hoax.
Of course, the lawsuit against Barnum became null since the "original" was a fake.
(Read the whole story about the Cardiff Giant, P.T. Barnum and the "sucker" quote on HistoryBuff.com)
P.T. Barnum did utter many notable quotes such as "every crowd has a silver lining," and "the public is wiser
than many imagine."
By 1872, P.T. Barnum called his multi-faceted entertainment "The Greatest Show on Earth!"
In 1882, Barnum brings a massive 12-foot African elephant, named Jumbo, to America.
As a result the word "jumbo" becomes part of the English language.
Barnum commented that the press says nice things about people after they die.
Several weeks before he died in his sleep, on April 7, 1891, Barnum was able to read his own obituary.
The New York Sun newspaper ran the obituary on the front page with the headline, "Great And Only
Barnum -- He Wanted To Read His Obituary -- Here It Is."
Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Bridgeport CT Centennial for a
variety of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.