Classic Coins - Cincinnati
Music Center Half Dollar
In 1936, the US Mint produced the Cincinnati Music Center Half Dollar Classic Commemorative Coin to recognize
the 50th anniversary of Cincinnati Ohio and its contribution to the art of music.
Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments,
On March 31, 1936, the second session of the 74th Congress approved an act which became Public Law
74-485 that authorized "the coinage of 50-cent pieces 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."
The law began, "That in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary in 1936 of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, as a
center of music, and to commemorate Cincinnati's contribution to the art of music in the United States for the past
fifty years, there shall be coined, at the mints of the United States, silver 50-cent pieces to the number of not
more than fifteen thousand, such 50-cent pieces to be of the standard troy weight, composition, diameter, device,
and such design as shall be fixed by the Director of the Mint, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury.
Such 50-cent pieces shall be legal tender in any payment to the amount of their face value.
"SEC. 2. The coins herein authorized shall be issued only upon the request of the Cincinnati Musical Center
Commemorative Coin Association, of Cincinnati, Ohio, upon payment by such Cincinnati Musical Center Commemorative
Coin Association of the par value of such coins, and it shall be permissible for the said Cincinnati Musical Center
Commemorative Coin Association to obtain said coins upon said payment, all at one time or at separate times, and in
separate amounts, as it may determine."
The law continues in Section 3 stating that all laws already in place applying to coinage shall also apply to
these coins and included the proviso that the United States would not be responsible for the costs associated with
Characteristics - Cincinnati Music
Center 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, Denver, San Francisco
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 $230 (low grade - XF) to $750 (high grade - MS-66).
Extraordinary characteristics on the Cincinnati Music Center Half Dollar can command a price outside the
estimated value range.
Obverse - Cincinnati Music Center Half
The obverse or front of the coin features a portrait of American composer Stephen Foster.
The coinage inscriptions say, United States of America, Stephen Foster, America's Troubadour, and Half
Artist: Constance Ortmayer
Reverse - Cincinnati Music Center Half
The reverse or back of the coin shows a female figure kneeling and holding a lyre.
The coinage inscriptions read Cincinnati, A Music Center of America, In God We Trust, E Pluribus Unum,
Liberty, and 1886 1936.
Artist: Constance Ortmayer
Commentary - Cincinnati Music Center
Though the stated mintage was to be "silver 50-cent pieces to the number of not more than fifteen
thousand," records show each of the three mints struck just a few over 5000 for a total of just over 15,015
half dollar coins.
The coin pictured above resides in an PCGS holder and is graded as an MS-64. (PCGS is Professional Coin
Versions of the coin also exist across a variety of the grades.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February 1898, William E. Hess attended public schools, the University of
Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Law School.
He served in World War I before practicing law. Hess began in Cincinnati city politics in 1922 then won the 1928
2nd District Congressional race.
Hess sponsored the bill to authorize the Cincinnati Commemorative Half Dollar for the golden anniversary of
Cincinnati as a center of music.
In 1870, Cincinnati hosted a German choral festival, their 17th. Maria Longworth Nichols and her husband George
enjoyed the event and similarly organized the May Festival.
Sängerfesthalle held the first festival in May 1873.
A chorus of nearly 800 from local singing societies, regional choruses and a 108-piece orchestra
The festival along with similar events made Cincinnati a national cultural center for music.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1826, Stephen Foster moved to Cincinnati to work as a bookkeeper for
his brother's steamship company in 1846.
Song writing was not recognized as a viable trade in the mid-1800s.
While in Cincinnati, Foster wrote Oh! Susanna which became an anthem for the California Gold Rush
(see the California Diamond
Jubilee half dollar) in 1848-49.
Cincinnati continues to hold many festivals and has several music and performing arts theaters. In 2012, it
hosted the World Choir Games.
Now in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historical Landmark, the Cincinnati
Music Hall was completed in 1878 as Cincinnati's premier classical music performance hall.
Today, it serves as the home for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, May Festival Chorus, and
the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.
Built on a graveyard, The Travel Channel chose the Music Hall as one of The Travel Channel's Most
Terrifying Places in America.
Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Cincinnati Music Center for a
variety of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.