The California-Pacific Exposition Half Dollar, also known as the San Diego half dollar, was issued in 1935 and 1936 to celebrate the city’s exposition. The coin was minted at the U.S. Mint in San Francisco. As the photos show, it is in Extremely Fine condition.
The front and back were designed by Robert Aitken, an accomplished sculptor and creator of the Missouri Centennial half dollar. The obverse features a figure with the likeness of a Seated Liberty, although to Aitken she was a Roman goddess, Minerva. Associated with wisdom and war, Minerva appears on California’s state seal, accompanied by the Grizzly bear, the official state animal. The coin “is considered one of the most beautiful of the classic commemorative series” (NGC), and Aitken’s designs were approved by the federal Commission of Fine Arts just weeks after they were submitted.
The Half-Dollar was issued to help raise funds for the San Diego-California-Pacific Exposition, and sold as a souvenir to event goers. The event honored the discovery of the Pacific Southwest by Fancisco Vázquez de Coronado. Coronado’s expedition is credited with discovering the Grand Canyon and several other famous landmarks. To commemorate the expedition, the face of the coin shows a sailing ship, a miner swinging a pick-ax, and the face of Coronado beneath the word “Eureka”.
A great number of the coins were passed back to the mint for re-coining, giving them a date of 1936, yet this is the original from 1935.
1935-S International San Diego California Pacific Exposition Commemorative Half-Dollar
Designer: Robert Aitken
Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
It can be yours for $70.