1947-D 50C Booker T. Washington, MS Commemorative Silver NGC
03330 Half Dollars
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For the initial offering in 1946, more than 200,000 complete sets were possible of the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mint coins. Philadelphia struck more than a million examples that year to provide for sales of single coins to the general public. Such sales rarely materialized, and many of these coins were subsequently melted or placed into circulation at face value. Nevertheless, all three mints coined this type annually through 1951 in ever-diminishing quantities that went straight to speculators and those few collectors who stayed with the program each year. Only the 1950-S and 1951(P) coins had significantly larger mintages, around half a million each, but again these coins were mostly returned to the Mint in later years for melting.
The 1946-47 series were distributed directly by the BTW Commission, but all subsequent issues were turned over to the coin dealership Bebee???s in Omaha for sale directly to coin collectors, it being evident by then that such people would be the only buyers. Even then, huge quantities went unsold and were ultimately handled by other dealers who acquired them at wholesale prices, and small hoards existed for years afterward as a drug on the market.
S. J. Phillips ultimately became mired in failed promises and charges of corruption and malfeasance. By the mid-1950s it was evident that whatever money had been raised through the sale of these coins was either lost or insufficient for the original purpose of the program. In fact, the commission owed $140,000, and the Commonwealth of Virginia finally stepped in to purchase the Washington birthplace site and present it to the federal government.