Early Silver Commemorative Coins Background
Nearly all of the early silver commemoratives coins were half dollars, and many were intended to marked important historical events. There was two exceptions: first, a quarter (Queen Isabella of Spain) was issued in 1893, second exception was a dollar (Lafayette of France) which was issued in 1900.
Often the profits raised by sale of these coins was used to fund projects and memorials related to various events. Those events of course were represented on the coins. The funding for the projects was so painless for Congress that by the 1920s, commemoratives were being issued so often that many of the events seemed trival or unimportant, they were often struck for multiple years and at several mints to help boost sales. An excellent example was the "Oregon Trail Memorial" half dollar, it was struck from 1926 to 1939, and it was struck at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.
On February 27, 1939 Congress stopped the minting of commemorative coins and brought to an end the period of early commemorative
coins, there were some exceptions. The early Commemorative series finally came to a close with the Washington/Carver half dollar,
struck from 1951-1954. Unofficially, it was issued to
oppose the spread of communism among Negroes in the interest of national
In 1982 commemorative silver coins were resumed even though there were no silver coins being issued for general circulation.