About 1936-PDS Cinci Set Silver Commemoratives
One of the more controversial commemorative issues is the 1936 Cincinnati half dollar, minted to honor the 50th anniversary of the Cincinnati Music Center, which was built in 1886. However, the coin, billing the medium-sized Ohio city as a center of music, also carries the bust of Stephen Foster. He was by every measure a talented musician but someone who spent only a few years in Cincinnati and did not compose any major pieces there. While the coin, designed by Constance Ortmayer, perhaps paints Cincinnati as a city on an equal musical footing a la Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, or Philadelphia, far more egregious matters occurred behind the scenes.
A very small number of coins were minted across the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints, and many of the coins were distributed among the major players who brought the coin to fruition. The coins, offered in sets of three (P, D, S) for $7.75, were reported as sold out early on, leaving many collectors who wanted these coins disappointed. Values for the trio shot up quickly, reaching $50 for the three coins. Of course, after values peaked, many of the early inside buyers sold the coins for a tremendous profit. As coins flooded the market, values returned to more reasonable levels of $12 to $15 for the set.
The Cincinnati half dollars are popular with collectors today. While it would seem the three issues would be equally rare given their virtually identical mintages, the 1936-D is encountered more frequently than the 1936 (-P) or 1936-S Cincinnati halves. While mostly encountered in the MS63-66 range, they are generally tough even in those levels, while examples grading MS67 or better are scarce to rare.
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