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PCGS Nos: 9303


Circulation strikes: net 20,000 (25,015 struck, less 15 reserved for assay, less 5,000 coins returned to the Mint and destroyed)
Proofs: 0

Designer: Trygve Rovelstad

Diameter: 30 millimeters

Metal content:
Silver - 90%
Copper - 10%

Weight: 193 grains (12.5 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mintmark: All Elgin Half Dollars were struck at the Philadelphia Mint

The city of Elgin, Illinois celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1935.  For the occasion, Trygve Rovelstad produced a Pioneer Medal, not only to celebrate the anniversary but to raise money for his Pioneer Memorial, a statue Rovelstad began in the early 1930's, but which had stalled due to a lack of funding.  The Pioneer Memorial was to be a 12 foot high grouping of five figures, representing a wilderness scout (based on the French explorer Joliet), settler James T. Gifford and his brother, Hezekian (founders of Elgin), James' wife and their baby.

In 1935, a bill sponsored by Congressman Chauncey Reed was introduced for a Half Dollar to commemorate the city's centennial and to raise money for Rovelstad's stalled statue.  Congress failed to pass the bill until June 1936, after the centennial had already come and gone.  Eventually, 25,015 Elgin Half Dollars were struck, 15 of which were reserved for assay.  20,000 coins were sold for $1.50 each and the remaining 5,000 were returned to the Mint and destroyed.

Unfortunately for Rovelstad, the funds from the sale of the Elgin Half Dollars were still insufficient to complete the statue.  Rovelstad placed the statue in his home studio, where it languished for many years, receiving occasional visitors who knew of the statue's existence.

Rovelstad died in 1990, ending his efforts to complete the statue.  Thanks to the support of his wife, his daughter, and the Pioneer Memorial Foundation of Illinois (established in 1957 by Rovelstad himself), his statue was bronzed and installed in a public place near the Kimball Street bridge in downtown Elgin, Illinois on November 11, 2001.

The 1936 Elgin Commemorative Half Dollar is common in Uncirculated condition and is seen most often in MS-64 and MS-65.  The Elgin is common even in MS-66, but becomes scarce in MS-67 and exceedingly rare in MS-68.

The finest Uncirculated examples graded by PCGS are 3 MS-68's.

A unique satin finish proof appeared in 1985.  No matte proofs are known of this type.  Neither PCGS nor NGC have certified any proofs of this type.

Significant examples:
Satin Proof.  Ex - Mid-American Rare Coin Auctions, Inc. "San Diego Sale". September 27-28, 1985, Lot 824, sold for $5,500.00 - Brian Hendelson.  Believed to be unique.

Recent appearances:
Gem Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 2077

Gem Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 2078

Gem Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 2079

Choice Brilliant Uncirculated, virtually Gem. 

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, October 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service

"The NGC Census Report, April 2003" by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

"Elgin Memorial Given Permanent Home" by Robert R. Van Ryzin, The Centinel, Spring 2002, pages 39-42.