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1920 Maine Classic Commemorative

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A tough issue to find with color:







Mintage of 50,028, 28 for assay, and zero proofs known.


On the centenary of the admission of the State of Maine to the Union in 1820, the Governor and Council of the State requested the Government to issue a commemorative half-dollar. Late in the summer of 1920, the Philadelphia Mint struck 50,028 of these pieces and they were distributed from the office of the State Treasurer at one dollar each.



Notice the difference between the plaster model and the coin as finally minted in that in the former the pine tree and moose in the state of arms are in relief, while in the latter they are intaglio.


Sunken relief, also known as intaglio or hollow relief, is where the image is made by carving into a flat surface.


Originally the designer was thought to be Anthony de Francisci or an “unknown artist.” Roger Burdette conducted research and wrote a Coin World article, " Designer of 1920 Maine Centennial Half Dollar Identified," that dispelled these "stories" and proved the designer was in fact Harry H. Cochrane. The original intention was to have these pieces placed on sale at the Centennial Celebration at Portland, Maine, but they were received late to do so. At least 30,000 sold fairly promptly, and the remainder was gradually sold by the State Treasurer until the supply was exhausted.



Parade in Portland celebrating the Maine Centennial, July 5, 1920


Obv. Arms of State of Maine, a pine tree with moose lying at base (countersunk), supported by two male figures representing agriculture (the scythe), and commerce (the anchor): above, a star with five short rays and DIRIGO in small letters, on a curved scroll; below, on a second scroll: MAINE, between two rosettes. In large letters, around upper border: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR at lower border.


Rev. Within wreath of pine needles and cones: MAINE / CENTENNIAL / 1820-1920 At upper border, in small letter: E PLURIBUS UNUM and between tips of wreath in larger letters: LIBERTY At lower border, divided by ribbon of wreath: IN GOD – WE TRUST Edge. Reeded. 30 mm Silver. Lettering. Gothic.


The Maine issue was the first commemorative coin on which a Latin word appeared in addition to the “E Pluribus Unum.” “Dirigo” means: I direct.



Maine Indians help Maine Gov. Carl Milliken into a canoe in Deering Oaks Park in Portland during the Centennial Celebration.

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To the Director of the Mint from the Congressman from Maine John Peters dated April, 1, 1920, regarding designs submitted for the Maine Commemorative Half Dollar.


I am sending you by separate mail the designs for the centennial half dollar submitted to me by Miss O'Reilly with two new designs prepared in behalf of the State of Maine by a Committee and embodying the suggestions previously made. These are submitted for your consideration and approval. There is also enclosed by separate mail with the other designs an impression of the seal of Maine and a picture of the seal.


On receipt of these I would be glad to have you make any suggestions that may be necessary.

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A Fantastic example! Still one of my favorites.


Thanks for the comments so far. :)





To the Congressman from Maine John Peters from Harry Cochrane dated April 3, 1920, regarding designs for the Maine Commemorative Half Dollar.


When I forwarded the sketch for the Centennial half dollar, I neglected to say that it seemed to me the design would be more dignified to have the legends in plain lettering around the outer rims than to fill the center with cumbersome detail, I think the director and designer of the mint will endorse this opinion.

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