Greater Atlanta Coin Show
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Products showing Modern Commemorative Coins on the Greater Atlanta Coin Show's Numismatic Shoppe

Classic Coins - Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

Congress approved the 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar classic commemorative coin to recognize the commencement of the Stone Mountain carving on June 18, 1923.

Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments, fun facts

When the 68th Congress approved the coinage act on March 17, 1924, it became noted as Public Law 68-46.

The law began, "That in commemoration of the commencement on June 18, 1923, of the work of carving on Stone Mountain, in the State of Georgia, a monument to the valor of the soldiers of the South, which was the inspiration of their sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters in the Spanish-American and World wars, and in memory of Warren G. Harding, President of the United States of America, in whose administration the work was begun..."

The law allowed, "...there shall be coined at the mints of the United States silver 50-cent pieces to the number of not more than five million, 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."

Following in Section 2, the law specified, "That the coins herein authorized shall be issued only upon the request of the executive committee of the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association, a corporation of Atlanta, Georgia, and upon payment by such executive committee for and on behalf of the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association of the par value of such coins, and it shall be permissible for the said Stone Mountain Monumental Association to obtain said coins upon said payment, all at one time or at separate time, and in separate amounts, as it may determine."

The law included the Proviso: "That the United States shall not be subject to the expense of making the necessary dies and other preparations for this coinage."

Basically, the 68th Congress intended the coinage act to help the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association pay for the Stone Mountain carving.

The Association would pay face value (par value) for the coins and sell them at a premium around the country. 

One newspaper article noted the Association planned to sell the first 200 coins at $1000 each.

The Association enlisted several banks around the country to help in their efforts to sell the coins at a premium over face value, most at $1.00 each.

Characteristics - Stone Mountain Memorial 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: 1925

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 $37 (low grade - XF) to $275 (high grade - MS-66).

Extraordinary characteristics on the Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar can command a price outside the estimated value range.

In particular, some of the coins were stamped on their reverse with information to the various state sales agencies (mostly banks). These coins sustain a higher value. 

Obverse - Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

The obverse or front of the coin shows Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson on horseback as if they were reviewing the soldiers of the South.

Thirteen stars decorate the front of the coin - perhaps representative of the original thirteen states in the Union.

The coinage inscriptions include In God We Trust, Stone Mountain, and 1925.

Artist: Gutzon Borglum

Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar obverse

Reverse - Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

The reverse or back of the coin shows an eagle, symbolizing Liberty, perched on a mountain crag, symbolizing Stone Mountain.

Low-relief stars are scattered in the background.

The coinage inscriptions read, United States of America, E Pluribus Unum, Memorial to the Valor of the Soldier of the South, Liberty, and Half Dollar.

Artist: Gutzon Borglum

Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar reverse

Commentary - Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

Though the stated mintage limit was 5,000,000, records show less than 1.5 million of the coins were distributed.

This could perhaps be due, at least in part, to the conflict between the primary artist and sculptor, Gutson Borglum, and the Monumental Association.

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 in higher grades such as an MS-66 grade.

Coincidentally, the US Mint began production for the coins on January 21, which was Stonewall Jackson's birthday.

In details of the plans, J.A. McCord, treasurer of the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association stated,

"From a historical standpoint, the Stone Mountain Memorial half-dollar is the most important special coin ever issued by the government of the United States. It is a memorial to the valor of the south, introduced in the senate by a western republican, Senator Smodt, of Utah, and introduced in the house by a northern republican, Representative McFadden, of Pennsylvania. It was passed unanimously in both houses and was approved by a republican president from New England. It signalizes the complete and final eradication of sectional feeling in the United States." Times Daily, February 12, 1925 (newspaper opens in new window)

As a result of the conflict, Borglum destroyed the models for the carving and left to work on Mount Rushmore. The Norwalk Hour, February 26, 1925 (newspaper opens in new window)

Borglum's plan included seven main figures supported by an "army of thousands."

The sculptor who took over the project blasted away Borglum's work and began a new carving with three primary Southern figures - President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

The new team of men could not finish the carving by the stated deadline in 1928.

Several years later, the State of Georgia purchased Stone Mountain and began efforts to finish the carving. It was dedicated in 1970.

Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Stone Mountain Memorial for a variety of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.


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