½ Dollar Cincinnati Music Center


Issuer United States
Period Federal republic (1776-date)
Type Non-circulating coin
Year 1936
Value ½ Dollar = 50 Cents (½ USD)
Currency Dollar (1785-date)
Composition Silver (.900)
Weight 12.50 g
Diameter 30.60 mm
Shape Round
Technique Milled
Orientation Coin alignment ↑↓
References KM# 176
Tracy L. Schmidt (editor); 2019. Standard Catalog of World Coins / 2001-Date (14th edition). Krause Publications, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States.
And 5 more volumes.

Commemorative issue

50th Anniversary of Cincinnati


Stephan Foster facing right.

Script: Latin


Engraver: Constance Ortmeyer


Kneeling woman playing the lyre.

Script: Latin


Engraver: Constance Ortmeyer




United States Mint of Philadelphia, United States (1792-date)
D United States Mint of Denver, United States (1906-date)
S United States Mint of San Francisco, United States (1854-date)


The 1936 Cincinnati Music Center Half Dollar is often cited as one of the early commemorative coins issued for a topic questionable historical significance and primarily for the profit of an enthusiastic promoter. Officially, the coins were authorized to commemorative “the fiftieth anniversary of Cincinnati, Ohio, as a center of music, and its contribution to the art of music for the past fifty years.”

When the designs were sent to the the Commission of Fine Arts for approval, they raised series issues about the design and legitimacy of the commemorative coin issue. They could not find anyone in music circles who knew about the proposed coin. They also presented information showing that the city’s leadership in music could be traced back to 1873, with the May Festival Association organized by George Ward Nichols. The date 1886, which was included on the coin, carried no particular significance. Stephen Foster, who appeared on the obverse of the coin, had no role in the movement in Cincinnati, but only lived there briefly while he was a bookkeeper.

Despite these reservations and the CFA’s outright rejection of the designs, the coins were ultimately issued at their maximum authorized mintage of 15,000 pieces plus additional examples for assay. The production was divided equally between the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mint facilities, resulting in extremely low mintages.

The coins were offered at $7.75 for a complete set of three coins, which represented the highest initial pricing for a silver commemorative to date. Very few coins were actually purchased at this price, as the entire mintage was quickly announced as sold out. It is believed that many of the sets were placed with insiders or those close to the issuer, who began offering them for sale at significantly higher prices following the “sell out.”

Authorization: Public Law 74-485

See also

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Date Mintage VG F VF XF AU UNC Frequency
1936  5 005 44%
1936 D 5 005 $ 620 61%
1936 S 5 006 61%

Values in the table above are expressed in USD. They are based on evaluations by Numista users and sales realized on Internet platforms. They serve as an indication only; they are not intended to be relied upon for buying, selling or exchanging. Numista does not buy or sell coins or banknotes.

Frequencies show the percentage of Numista users who own each year or variety among all the users who own this coin. Since some users own several versions, the sum may be greater than 100%.

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Country: United States
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Numista Rarity index: 83 Search tips
This index is based on the data of Numista members collections. It ranges from 0 to 100, 0 meaning a very common coin or banknote and 100 meaning a rare coin or banknote among Numista members.

Bullion value: USD 8.30 Search tips
This value is given for information purpose only. It is based on a price of silver at 738 USD/kg. Numista does not buy or sell coins or metal.

Past sales

Pictures Sale Date Version Grade Sold price
Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)
Stacks Bowers
August 2021 ANA Auction
Lot 9774
Internet Archive
Aug 16, 2021 1936 D UNC
USD 1560.00
(+ buyer's premium)
Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)
Stacks Bowers
Collector's Choice June 2021 Auction
Lot 5543
Internet Archive
Jun 22, 2021 1936 D UNC
(NGC MS66)
USD 660.00
(+ buyer's premium)
Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)Picture 1 of a sold ½ Dollar (Cincinnati Music Center)
Heritage Auctions
2020 October 14 - 17 The Maurice Storck Collection US Coins Signature Auction 1323
Lot 19458
Internet Archive
Oct 17, 2020 1936 D UNC
USD 408.00
(incl. buyer's premium)
See the sales

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