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Commemorative coinage of the United States consists of coins that have been minted to commemorate a particular event, person or organization.

Many consider the 1848 2 1/2 dollar gold piece counter stamped "CAL" to be the first U.S. commemorative coin, as it commemorated the finding of gold in California.

Most standard lists begin with the 1892 half dollar commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to America. The following year, the Columbian Exposition quarter dollar featuring Queen Isabella of Spain was issued.

Most students of U.S. commemorative coinage acknowledge the gap between 1954 and 1982 by classifying those minted from 1892–1954 as Early Commemoratives, and those minted since 1982 as Modern Commemoratives.

Confederate memorial coin. The other side reads "memorial to the valor of the soldier of the South."

In 1924, a commemorative 50-cent coin was released that showed Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; money raised from the sale of the coins was combined with money raised by the Ku Klux Klan in order to fund the carving of a Confederate monument at Stone Mountain, the 1915 site of the founding of the second Ku Klux Klan.

The U.S. Mint was criticized for commemorative issues of dubious recognition, and seemingly endless mint runs (the Oregon Trail Memorial 50-cent piece was minted 8 years during a 14-year span). The period of Early Commemoratives ended with the 1954 issues of the WashingtonCarver 50-cent piece.

Circulating commemorative coins have been somewhat more unusual in the United States.

In 1932, the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, the mint produced a circulating commemorative, the Washington Quarter. In 1934 (with no quarters produced in 1933), it became the regular issue coinage design.

In 1975 and 1976, the Washington quarter was also used to commemorate the United States Bicentennial with a circulating commemorative. The Kennedy half-dollar and Eisenhower dollar also featured commemorative designs for circulation during these two years. (All U.S. Bicentennial commemoratives were dated 1776-1976, despite being produced throughout 1975-76.)

More recently, the State Quarters program began in 1999 with five different circulating commemoratives each year, with reverses for each of the 50 States in the order of their admission to the union. In 2007, six quarters commemorating the District of Columbia, two commonwealths, and three territories were added to the program for issue in 2009.

Also in 2009, four commemorative one cent pieces are being issued to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

In 2004–2005 the mint issued four commemorative nickel five cent pieces in the Westward Journey Nickel Series, celebrating the 200th anniversaries of the Louisiana Purchase and the Corps of Discovery.

The value of commemorative coins depends primarily upon the condition, scarcity and composition of the coin. See coin grading.

See also

External links

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