1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

The Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar has published a mintage of 1,314,709 pieces after a massive initial authorization of five million coins, which makes it one of the most available early commemorative coins. The issue, however, is very interesting. It provides insight into the political process that is legislating new coinage and how much current events can influence the issuance and design of a coin.

Stone Mountain Memorial, which is located in DeKalb County, Georgia, is the largest bas-relief structure in the world. The Memorial honors three important figures from the short-lived Confederate States of America: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas Stonewall Jackson. The site is located fifteen miles outside of Atlanta and would have been the heart of the confederacy during the American Civil War.

Over a period of ten years, the Memorial was created on a drawing table and originating with Mrs. C. Helen Plane of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The work by Gutzon Borglum, who is best know for designing Mount Rushmore, did not begin until 1923.

In 1924, Congress passed an act authorizing the production and sale of up to five million commemorative half dollars to fund completion of the memorial. The act was passed less than sixty years after the end of the American Civil War as national consciousness of the events of the civil war was still very strong.

The coin was very well received in the South, but Northerners were conflicted about a coin authorized by Congress that depicted heroes from the Confederacy.

The final design by Borglum features the figures of the Confederate Generals with thirteen stars above the figures. However, unlike all other American coins, the thirteen stars do no represent the original thirteen states, but the eleven states of the Confederacy and Kentucky and Missouri, which both had secessionist factions.

The reverse of the coin features an eagle with its wings spread, standing on a cliff, which may signify Stone Mountain itself. There are thirty-five stars which are reportedly meant to signify all States in the Union prior to the Civil War, though there were thirty-four states at the start of the Civil War and thirty-six at its conclusion.

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