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1923 Monroe Doctrine Centennial

10 posts in this topic

Sealed the deal on this piece from Kathleen at Pinnacle Rarities:




Her description:


A nicely struck Monroe with vibrant luster and pleasing toning in the obverse peripheries. The reverse exhibits sharp detail with swaths of a golden hue draped across very clean surfaces.


These are not everyone's favorites by any means but one is needed for the 50 piece set. I liked the look, and price, so I added it to my collection.


Let me share a little history behind this coin:


Issued to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine.



Obverse: Depicts James Monroe and John Quincy Adams with the names MONROE and ADAMS under the images. Around the rim it states UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – HALF DOLLAR. To the left it states IN GOD WE TRUST. To the right is the date 1923.


Reverse: Appears as a representation of the Western Hemisphere – North America in the form of a draped figure with the laurel of peace, reaching to South America, also a draped figure carrying a horn of plenty; their hands touch at the Panama Canal. The West Indies are indicated and the ocean currents are lightly shown. Between the dates 1823 – 1923 are a scroll and a quill pen, symbolizing the “Treaty.” MONROE DOCTRINE CENTENNIAL is around the top with LOS ANGELES around the bottom.




Chester Beach



The models for this coin were prepared by Chester Beach, who used for the reverse of this piece, the symbolic figures representative of the Americas. This motif had been less successfully employed on the badge of the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo in 1901.




Original sketch of reverse. Courtesy of Stacks/Bowers Numismatics.



The obverse shows the heads of Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, respectively, which were instrumental in the formulation of the Doctrine, thenceforth, the cornerstone of American foreign policy.




Logo of the 1901 Pan-American Expo



During May and June, 1923, the San Francisco Mint struck 274,000 of these half-dollars, representing nearly the entire authorization of 300,000. The coins were released to the public at one dollar each.



The centennial of the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine was celebrated on July 2 thru August 5, 1923, at Los Angeles, California, and was the occasion for an issue of commemorative half-dollars. The motion- picture industry was the force behind the issue, as an historical revue and motion-picture exposition commemorating events in our national history were shown, and the proceeds from the sale of these half-dollars contributed toward financing this project.




Original plaster models courtesy of The Commission of Fine Arts


Meet Miss North America and Miss South America! Catherine Kaestner and Marye Danniels, art’s models, are here to take part in the exposition pageantry and display the same curves Chester Beach, sculptor and coin designer, immortalized with the half-dollar minted at San Francisco in commemoration of the exposition.


Miss Kaestner, a dashing brunette, posed for South America, and Miss Daniels, a radiant blonde, for North America. In the adaptation of the map of the western world on the reverse side of the Monroe Centennial coin.


In the posing Mr. Beach depicts the era of good-feeling and understanding which has prevailed between North and south America since the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine a hundred years ago. North America, bearing a chaplet in her left hand, reaches down her other hand to South America, carrying a horn of plenty, in cordial greeting.

LA Times, June 29, 1923

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One of my least favorite classic commems. So easy to find ugly, and that's not just because of the design. I was thrilled to find a really nice 63 for my set and be done with it.




The obverse design is strikingly similar to the Alabama commemorative of 1921, but the difference in execution shows just how superior an engraver Laura Gardin Fraser was than Chester Beach. As for the reverse, take a look at the Indian on the Oregon Trail of three years later and imagine had her and/or her husband's skills been applied to the anthropomorphic continents, and you'll realize that the Monroe could have been an incredible looking coin.




North America, bearing a chaplet in her left hand, reaches down her other hand to South America, carrying a horn of plenty, in cordial greeting.

Can you imagine if someone tried depicting North America and South America like this today? There'd be a lot of people "haftin' to be uproared" about it. Of course, they'd have to have the design explained to them first.

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One of my least favorite classic commems. So easy to find ugly, and that's not just because of the design. I was thrilled to find a really nice 63 for my set and be done with it.

Thanks John.


I'm in agreement around the aesthetics of this coin in the 50 piece series. Thank you for adding some context here and yours is a nice example!


(thumbs u




From the Director of the Mint Report for FY 1923:


25 Dies manufactured.


Ingots operated upon by coining departments and percentage of coin produced:


Subsidiary Silver:

Ingots operated upon (ounces) – 189,294.66; percentage of good coin produced 57.81.


Percentage of good coin produced to pieces struck:


Subsidiary Silver:

Blank Struck (number) - 281,100; Percent of good coin produced - 97.47


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Nice coin, Lee and I enjoyed the historical info and images. lcoopie must have one of the prettiest examples extant! I still "need" one of these for my set of commems featuring notable Virginians (I might include a Grant if I decide to accept notable trespassers on our soil,but I digress). I like the reverse design a lot with the anthropomorphic continents, it's too bad the execution was lacking. Nice try, though, Chester.

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If the reverse could have been produced with dramatically higher relief then this had a chance to be an outstanding design.

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Thanks all!


(thumbs u



Courtesy of the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts


Minutes of Meeting held in Washington, D.C., December 18 and 19, 1922.


The following members were present:

Mr. Moore, Chairman,

Mr. Fraser,

Mr. Ayres,

Mr. Bacon,

Mr. Mowbray,

Mr. Medary,


Also Mr. H. P. Caemmerer, Secretary and Executive Officer.


Monroe Doctrine Centennial: Mr. Moore reported that officials of the Monroe Doctrine Centennial, to be held at Los Angeles in June, 1923, had consulted him regarding a design for a memorial coin, for which a bill has been introduced in Congress, and that the matter had been submitted to Mr. Fraser with the request that an artist be selected for making the design. The Exposition Committee agreed to the necessary expenditure ($1800) involved in preparing design, model and dies.


Mr. Fraser stated that he thought it would be appropriate to select a sculptor from California for the work and accordingly would recommend Mr. Chester Beach, sculptor, of New York City, a native of California, as the designer. An acceptable model was received from Mr. Beach in the competition for the Peace Dollar.


The Commission approved the selection of Mr. Beach for this work. On the obverse of the coin will appear portraits of Monroe and John Quincy Adams. For the reverse was suggested the Western Hemisphere in relief, but Mr. Fraser stated that he and Mr. Beach are of the opinion that figures representing North and South America would be promising of better results in the production of the coin. The Commission concurred in this suggestion. The legends usually required will appear on this memorial coin.


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Some nice examples all.






Courtesy of Stacks/Bowers Numismatics.




With the opening of the American Historical Revue and Motion-Picture Exposition a week away, the grounds at Exposition Park are a mass of busy workers putting on the finishing touches for the celebration of the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine.


According to W. J. Reynolds, president of the exposition, everything will be in readiness for the grand opening a week from Monday night. This will be a memorable occasion, for the premiere will be exclusively for patrons who have assisted in making the exposition possible. Virtually every motion-picture star in the profession will attend the formal opening of the exposition.


While a great number of the exhibits have been placed in the showrooms of the Pueblo Village, many of the exhibitors are planning to install their products early this week. Principal cities and counties in the State have taken space in the showrooms, as well as manufacturers and other producers. The large motion-picture organizations are to occupy important places in the exhibitors’ galleries.




Unusual progress was made last week in the work of laying out the gardens of the exposition grounds. Under the direction of O. W. Howard of Howard & Smith Co., the landscape has taken on a pleasing appearance and now resembles cities of South and Central America.


Thousands of plants, most of them tropical and semi-tropical, have been artistically arranged by Mr. Howard along the esplanade and in the Court of Honor and side streets. Prickly pear cactus, ten to fifteen feet in height, blooming century plants towering twenty-five feet overhead, and great varieties of other plants and palms of semi-tropical countries, make the Exposition Grounds a veritable Central American town duplicated. When it was asserted that Mr. Howard expects to have the flowers and plants in full bloom by July 2, when the exposition opens, and that he will then have worked on the plan for a little more than thirty days, it readily can be understood why more than a hundred gardeners and landscape assistants have been employed transplanting great trees, vines, and shrubbery bodily.


The landscape decorations have the tropical effect and blend admirably with the architecture of the group of exposition buildings. The principal flowers in the open beds are verbenas and petunias, while on the sides, huddled close to the buildings, are clumps cannas in full bloom. Yuccas also are a predominating plant, with scores of tropical ferns much in evidence.


Charles H. Duffield of Thearle-Duffield, who will stage the huge fireworks spectacles each evening in connection with the exposition, is in Los Angeles giving personal supervision to the arrangements for that phase of the entertainment. “Montezuma, or the Last Days of the Aztec” and A Night in the Orient: India” are subjects of two tremendous fireworks displays that Mr. Duffield is planning.


Emile de Ricat, famous producer of pageants, stated yesterday that final dress rehearsals for historical pageants to be given daily in the Coliseum, adjoing the Pueblo Village, exposition grounds, will be conducted this week with dress rehearsals scheduled for Friday and Saturday. These pageants, as well as other amusements, are being given under the supervision of the World Amusements Services Association, which ahs constructed a stage 100 by 130 feet in the center of the Coliseum. Dancers who will present three historical ballets are being directed by Theodore Kosloff, noted Russian dancer.




Extensive plans are being made for All Nations Day, set for Sunday, July 22, when the program will be in charge of foreign born residents. Special days have been set aside for the different State Societies. Every State or group of States in the Union has been assigned days on the Exposition program.


While carpenters, painters and gardeners were busy yesterday with their various duties, H. E. Ellsworth Bassett, noted artist, was found in “The Little Church around the Corner” completing a huge mural painting. Mr. Bassett already has completed three paintings, 6 by 12 feet in size, their titles being “Aztec Home Life,” Montezuma’s Fire Dancers” and “Montezuma’s Nuggett.”




Following a visit to the grounds last week, G. Gordon Whitnall, director of the City Planning Commission, became an enthusiastic booster of the exposition. He said: “My interest lives in the fact that here in Exposition Park, a combined city, county and State institution, is to be presented by the commercial interests of the city, in a way both pleasing and artistic, the commercial assets of the community for the information and entertainment of our own citizens and those that are to become our citizens. It is but another evidence of the ability of Los Angeles to make the most of its many opportunities and to increase its activity in those things that give just reason for pride in our community’s accomplishments. Mr. Whitnall also asserted that he was astounded at the remarkable architecture that brings in the stadium in the background with much pleasing effect. He stated Charles H. Kyson, architect, who designed the exposition grounds and buildings, had done a marvelous piece of work. "LA Times June 24, 1923."


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