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1936 Cleveland/Great Lakes Half Dollar

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Coin arrived yesterday from Pinnacle Rarities, who are one of the best!


Nice color, strike and lustre for a Cleveland.


Please post an early commem if you have one. :)









Some history:


1936 mintage of 25,015 with 15 coins for assay and 25,015 coins minted in 1937 with 15 coins for assay. 86 coins melted. Designed and modeled by Miss Brenda Putnam and distributed by the Cleveland Centennial Commemorative Coin Association, Thomas G. Melish, treasurer. Dies by the Medallic Art Company of New York.


Miss Brenda Putman of New York City prepared the designs for this attractive issue. Moses Cleaveland, who founded the city of Cleveland one hundred years ago, is featured on the obverse. The original spelling of the name Cleaveland has been observed in the accompanying legend.


The reverse shows an aeroplane view of the Great Lakes with a compass encircling the region. The city of Cleveland is indicated by the largest of the nine stars, upon which rests the tip of the compass point. The eight smaller stars represent other important cities bordering the Great Lakes. The issue is limited to 25,000 coins all to be struck at one mint. Thomas G. Melish, treasurer of the Cleveland Centennial Commemorative Coin Association, 105 East Third Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, is distributing the coins. The cost of one coin is $1.65, postpaid.1



Miss Brenda Putman


. . . "The exposition which was the occasion of striking this coin was notable for its splendid exhibits in the motor and agricultural departments. The main celebration was held at Cleveland, but other cities are indicated by the stars on the reverse of the coin and are as follows: Duluth, Milwaukee, Chicago, Toledo, Detroit, Buffalo, Toronto and Rochester. The large star upon which rests the tip of the compass point, represents the city of Cleveland.2



A brochure in my Numismatic Library.



The Great Lakes Exposition welcomes you. This Exposition represents the endeavor of the people of Cleveland––in the centennial year of the incorporation of this community as a city––to express the material, social and cultural progress which has been achieved in the Great Lakes Region in the past 100 years. Here, too, is represented an endeavor to indicate the paths of progress for the future––progress which, it is the sincere wish of the Board of Trustees of this Exposition, will benefit every community, and every citizen, of the Great Lakes Region.



General Chairman, Great Lakes Exposition. . . " 3.



Opening Day Crowd. Courtesy of About.com



General view of the Exposition Grounds looking east. Grounds extend one mile along the lake front. Courtesy Great Lakes Exposition brochure in my numismatic library.



1. The Coin Collector’s Journal, The Cleveland Centennial Great Lakes Exposition Commemorative Half Dollar, September 1936, p. 116.

2. The Coin Collectors Journal, January, 1939, p. 175.

3. The Official Souvenir Guide to the Great Lakes Exposition held in Cleveland, Ohio in 1936, p. 25, an item in my Numismatic Library.



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Nice example (of an awful design) and very interesting info and photos. By the time this "design" was approved by the Commission of Fine Arts, it had become a largely rubber-stamp body. The sculptor member cared little for doing the kind of job that Fraser and other strong artistic sculptors had in the past. Brenda Putnam was a mediocre sculptor and apparently had little experience in medallic or small-scale bas relief design. Lettering is atrocious and the portrait of Moses (Cleaveland) would certainly not part a sea of any color.


I fear Dudley did not Do Right by the Great Lakes in selecting this design for a commemorative money-maker coin.

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