Early Gold Commemoratives
The first United States commemorative coin was the Columbian half dollar designed by Olin Lewis Warner. Charles E. Barber engraved the obverse, showing the bust of Columbus; and George T. Morgan engraved the reverse, a representation of Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria above two hemispheres. The coins were sold for $1 each at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago during 1893. A great many remained unsold and a substantial quantity was later released for circulation at face value or melted. Approximately 100 brilliant Proofs were struck for each date.