About 1926 Oregon Trail Silver Commemoratives
The 1926 Oregon Trail half dollar is the first of several issues of this particular commemorative type – one that was struck until 1939. It reigns as the longest-produced design during the entire classic commemorative series, having been struck over the course of 14 years.
Many say the Oregon half dollar is one of the earliest types of commemoratives that was really afflicted by the abuses and manipulation that eventually brought an end to the commemorative coin program of 1892-1954. Regardless of the controversy surrounding this coin, which will be touched on in this and other listings for this piece, the Oregon half dollar is largely regarded as one of the most beautiful coins the United States Mint ever produced. It honors the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail and the many pioneers who charted the path and died along the route. The 1926 issues were sold for $1 each.
The coin was designed by husband-and-wife coin-designing team James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser. The obverse shows a Native American standing before a geographical map of the continental United States, with an indication of the actual Oregon Trail across the applicable portion of map. The reverse shows a cattle-drive stagecoach rolling over a hill with a large sunset shining in the background.
In its first year of issue, the 1926 Oregon Trail half dollar saw production at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints. The Philadelphia and San Francisco offered a combined 131,010 examples, and most of the available specimens today are known in uncirculated grades. They are usually encountered in the grades of AU-MS65, with higher-grading pieces proving scarce. No Oregon half dollars were minted in 1927, and the next batch would come from Philadelphia in 1928.
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