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United States Coinage for the Philippine Islands: The Fifty Centavos of 1903 - 1906 by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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Today's Journal entry is the fourteenth installment in my weekly series on the United States coinage for the Philippine Islands. The thirteenth of the twenty slots that compose a NGC USA-Philippines Type Set is the Fifty Centavos of 1903 - 1906.


The Fifty Centavos was designed by Filipino artist Melicio Figueroa and engraved by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber. The obverse design features a young Filipino woman standing to the right in a flowing dress while striking an anvil with a hammer held in her right hand. Her left hand is raised and holding an olive branch. In the background is a billowing volcano. The obverse carries the inscriptions "Fifty Centavos" and "Filipinas" (Spanish for Philippines). The reverse design depicts an eagle with spread wings perched atop an American shield. The reverse carries the inscription "United States of America" and the date.


The 1903 - 1906 Fifty Centavos has a diameter of 30 mm and a weight of 13.48 grams (208 grains) of .900 fineness silver (ASW .3900 oz).


Business strikes of the Fifty Centavos were produced at the Philadelphia Mint in 1903 (3,101,619) and 1904 (10,000), and the San Francisco Mint in 1904 (2,160,000), and 1905 (852,000).


A small number of 1903-S Fifty Centavos were struck as die trial or assay pieces. Only two examples of the 1903-S assay piece are known to exist.


All of the 1904 (P) business strikes were produced as part of a Special Mint Set of USA-Philippine silver coins (Ten Centavos, Twenty Centavos, Fifty Centavos, and One Peso) struck specifically for sale at the Philippine Exhibit at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World Fair) in St. Louis. Of the 10,000 sets produced for this purpose 3254 were sold at the 1904 World Fair. Another 500 sets were sold by the Philippine Treasury in Manila. The remaining 6246 sets were placed in circulation as ordinary coins.


A limited number of Proof Fifty Centavos were produced at the Philadelphia Mint from 1903 through 1906. The mintage figures for proof Fifty Centavos is as follows: 1903 (2,558), 1904 (1,355), 1905 (471), and 1906 (500). The 1905, and 1906 Fifty Centavos are PROOF ONLY ISSUES. Proof sets were not sold in any sort of protective packaging or cases but were contained in plain paper envelopes and each coin was wrapped individually in thin tissue paper. This method of packaging has contributed to the micro thin hairline scratches seen on most proof coins as well as the heavy toning often seen. Choice and GEM proof coins are very scarce.


The business and proof coins produced at the Philadelphia Mint have no mint mark. Business strikes produced at the San Francisco Mint have an "S" mint mark on the reverse to the left of the date.


The 1903 - 1906 Fifty Centavos had a weight of 13.48 Grams of .900 fineness Silver (AWS .3900 oz). With an official exchange rate of two Philippine Pesos to one U.S. dollar it was not long before the value of the silver content in the Fifty Centavos exceeded its face value and many were melted during the great silver melts of the period. In 1906 the silver coins held in reserve by the Treasury to back the Philippine paper money then in circulation were exported to the U.S. for re-coinage into the reduced size and weight pieces which followed in 1907. Lyman Allen estimates that less than 20% of all 1903-1906 silver coinages exist today in any grade.


Finding Gem quality examples of the 1903 - 1906 Fifty Centavos can be quite challenging. The least expensive Gem quality type coin is the 1904 (P) business strike (from the 1904 SMS) which has a book value of $450.00 in MS65. Choice uncirculated examples of the 1903 (P), 1904 (P), and 1904-S are easier to find and considerably less expensive. The 1903 (P) is the least expensive date in MS63 with a book value of $175.00.


Strike Issues: Many obverses show a little flattening of the frontal hair just above the ear. Reverses occasionally show slight flattening of the eagle's breast feathers.


Die Varieties: The 1903 -- 1906 Fifty Centavos has no known die varieties.


The attached picture shows my 1903 USA-Philippines Fifty Centavos PF65. The Proof 1903 Fifty Centavos had a mintage of 2,558. The NGC population is 9/18.


To see my Fifty Centavos Registry Set click here: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=51266&Ranking=all


To see the other coins that comprise an NGC USA-Philippines Type Set visit my award winning (2011 Best Presented Set Award) USA-Philippines Type Set at: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=51257&;Ranking=ngc


An expanded version of the USA-Philippines Type Set is found in my Custom USA-Philippines Type Set at: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=9238


Next week's installment will feature the Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos of 1907 - 1921.



See more journals by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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