Elgin, Illinois, Centennial half dollar
The Elgin, Illinois, Centennial half dollar was a fifty-cent commemorative coin issued by the United States Bureau of the Mint in 1936. The piece was designed by local sculptor Trygve Rovelstad. It is considered one of the most outstanding American commemoratives by art historian Cornelius Vermeule.
About Elgin, Illinois, Centennial half dollar in brief
The Elgin, Illinois, Centennial half dollar was a fifty-cent commemorative coin issued by the United States Bureau of the Mint in 1936. The piece was designed by local sculptor Trygve Rovelstad. The obverse depicts an idealized head of a pioneer man. The reverse shows a grouping of pioneers, and is based upon a sculptural group thatRovelstad hoped to build as a memorial to those who settled Illinois, but which was not erected in his lifetime. The bill for the Elgin coin did not pass until 1936. Unlike many commemorative coins of that era, the piece was not bought up by dealers and speculators, but was sold directly to collectors at the issue price. It is considered one of the most outstanding American commemoratives by art historian Cornelius Vermeule. The coin was sold by Texas coin dealer L. W. Hoffecker, who had been a force behind the Old Spanish Trail half dollar, issued in 1935 and distributed by him. He was able to sell about 20,000 coins, four-fifths of the issue: the remaining 5,000 were returned to the Mint for melting. The Elgin community was founded in 1835 by James and Hezekiah Gifford, who named it. It became a village in 1847 and a city in 1854. In the latter year, a watch company was founded there, and the city became well known for the firm’s timepieces; it also was notable for the production of tools, shoes, wood products, and weekly church bulletins.
The city leaders approved, and in 1934, a foundation was laid for the statue in Davidson Park, the site of the Giffords’ first cabin. The sculptor had a bill introduced in Congress in May 1935 to authorize a half dollar to celebrate Elgin’s centennial and to honor the pioneer. He hoped that the proposed coin would both depict and be a source of funds for his memorial to the pioneers. He decided this would be a good means of funding the statue, but the bill initially was not considered. In September 1935, he wrote to him in September 1935 to ask for the models to be submitted for approval, and this is where the coin was born. These should also be 10 in diameter, and where all sculptors all want to incorporate their own ideas in the design and ask anywhere to commences commences their work, telling you what their work is. He also offered to handle the issue for the committee; he proposed to advance the money necessary to purchase the new coins from the government and handle the distribution of the new issue. He did not know yet that he was a sculptor, and wrote back to him to say he was not a dealer—the letter was not used to write that he used to do that. He stated that he had enjoyed the Distribution of the OldSpanish Trail piece, though he lied, saying he had not been a dealer, and that he did not do that to write to him.