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United States Coinage for the Philippine Islands: The Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos of 1907 -- 1921 by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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Today's Journal entry is the fifteenth installment in my weekly series on the United States coinage for the Philippine Islands. The fourteenth of the twenty slots that compose a NGC USA-Philippines Type Set is the Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos of 1907 - 1921.


When the U.S. Congress established the Standards for U.S. Philippine coins in March 1903 the price of silver was at an all time low. By 1905 rising silver prices brought the bullion value of Philippine silver coins to the level where they were beginning to disappear from circulation. By November 1906 the bullion value of Philippine silver coins had risen to 13.2% over their face value. Laws prohibiting the melting and export of silver coins proved largely ineffective and something had to be done.


On December 6, 1906 the U.S. Congress passed an Act "for the purpose of preventing the melting and exportation of the silver coins of the Philippine Islands as a result of the high price of silver". The Act reduced the weight and fineness of the four denominations of USA/Philippine silver coins. It also granted authority to recall all USA-Philippine silver coins from banks and circulation and ship them back to the United States for re-coining into pieces of lesser fineness.


Under the new standards the silver Fifty Centavos coin was reduced from 13.48 Grams (208 grains), of .900 fineness silver (ASW 0.3900 oz.) to 10.0 grams (154.32 grains), of .750 fineness silver (ASW .2411oz.). The size of the Fifty Centavos was also reduced from 30 mm to 27 mm. The first year of production for the new "Reduced Size and Weight" silver coins was 1907.


The Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos uses the same obverse and reverse designs that were used on earlier Fifty Centavos. The Fifty Centavos was designed by Filipino artist Melicio Figueroa. 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. Fifty Centavos struck at the Philadelphia and Manila Mints have no mint mark. All of the Fifty Centavos made at the San Francisco Mint have an "S" mint mark on the reverse to the left of the date.


Business strikes of the reduced size and weight Fifty Centavos were struck at both the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints in 1907. In 1908 and 1909 all of the Fifty Centavos business strikes were produced at the San Francisco Mint. No Fifty Centavos were produced anywhere from 1910 through 1916. In 1917 Fifty Centavos production resumed at the San Francisco Mint where it continued through 1919. In 1920 Fifty Centavos production shifted to the newly opened Manila Mint. Fifty Centavos were produced at the Manila Mint in 1920 and 1921.


Since U.S. mints had to replace nearly all of the Islands silver coinage in 1907 it was not felt that there were enough resources to make 1907 Proof Sets. When Proof Set production resumed in 1908 all of the silver coins, including the 1908 Fifty Centavos, were struck in the newly authorized reduced weight and fineness. 1908 was the last year of production for Philippine Proof coins and the only year that the reduced size and weight Fifty Centavos was struck in Proof. The 1908 (P) Fifty Centavos is a PROOF ONLY ISSUE with a mintage of 500 coins.


Mintage figures for business strikes of the Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos are as follows: 1907-(P) (1,250,625), 1907-S (2,112,000), 1908-S (1,601,000), 1909-S (528,000), 1917-S (674,369), 1918-S (2,202,000), 1919-S (1,200,000), 1920-(M) (420,000), 1921-(M) (2,316,763).


Die Varieties: The Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos has two recognized die varieties. They are: 1917-S Broken 7 (Allen number 14.06a), and 1918-S Inverted S (Allen number 14.07a).


Strike Issues: The 1907 -- 1921 Fifty Centavos have numerous strike issues. "Obverses (including Proofs of 1908) come with considerably flat frontal hair just above (the) ear, and may also show flattening of the figure's left hand. The barren appearance of the abdomen and left leg on an uncirculated piece creates an impression that the coin has already been in use. Reverses are quite unevenly struck; this is noted clearly by the top part of the shield which has a depressed middle and raised sides. The right side is slightly higher than the left, and may show a little flattening." (Shafer 1961 pages 39 -- 40)


GEM quality examples of most dates of this type coin are both rare and expensive. The least expensive dates are the 1918-S and 1919-S which have book values of $750.00 in MS65. Although the Allen Catalog lists MS65 book values of $500.00 and $400.00 respectably for the 1920 (M) and 1921 (M) Fifty Centavos these values are largely theoretical as true Gem examples of these dates are virtually unknown. Mint State 64 is the top grade for the 1920 (M) and only one 1921 (M) has been graded higher than MS64.


Choice Uncirculated examples of the above dates are considerably less expensive. The 1918-S and 1919-S have book values of $200.00 in MS63. The 1920 (M) has a book value of $125.00 in MS63 and the 1921 (M) has a MS63 book value of $70.00.


The attached picture shows my 1920 (M) USA-Philippines Fifty Centavos. This attractive Top Pop specimen (NGC population 3/0, Combined NGC/PCGS population 13/0) is graded NGC MS64 and is pedigreed from the "Just Having Fun" collection.


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 Commonwealth Reverse Fifty Centavos of 1944 - 1945.



See more journals by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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I have a 1975 Proof set from there, minted by the Franklin mint. They are beautiful and was taking them to the FUN show to sell this week. (In Orlando Fla)

Would love to send you a picture. Any idea what they are worth.

Capt. Brian


PS If you like, I can make a journal, and include a picture. I can't see how to include a picture in a reply. Do you know of a way?


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