Authorized by congress on March 4, 1921 (Warren G. Harding’s Inauguration day) the Maximum mintage was set at 250,000 pieces. The proceeds from the sales were to go to the Missouri Centennial Committee to offset the cost of the Centennial celebration to be held in Sedalia, Missouri that year. This is the first example of a coin were a second variety was created in the same year specifically to increase sales to the coin collecting fraternity. As with all issues from the classic commemorative period, the benefiting organization was expected to pay for the face value of the coins and the cost of creating the design and model. As was common for coins of that era, the models were sent to the Medallic Arts company of New York to be reduced and turned into hubs.
The commission for the design was given to Mr. Robert Aitken, who had created the design for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition $50 gold piece. The Obverse depicts a frontiersman in buckskins and a coon skin cap Looking left. Most contemporary accounts claim this is a portrait of Daniel Boone who died in 1820 just before the Missouri compromise that brought Maine into the union as the 23rd stat (a free state) and Missouri as the 24th (a slave state). Other Inscription on the obverse include “United States of America” Arcing along the top rim with the words separated by dots, “Half Dollar” along the bottom rim and the dates “1821” to Boone’s Left and “1921” to the right . The Monogram 24 with the star between the digits is located just under Boone’s Chin on that variety.
On the reverse the central figures are a frontiersman (Boone again?) Which we see from behind; leaning on a long rifle in his right hand and gesturing off the coin with his left. The Frontiersman is dressed in buckskins and has a haversack and Powder horn draped over his shoulder and down his back. The Frontiersman appears to be talking and gesturing to a Native American who wears a war bonnet and carries a shield in his right hand, but also carries a piece pipe in his left hand. The Indian appear to be taking his first step off the coin to the left (heading west?). The two figures stand in front of a field of 24 stars arrayed from ground level in four rows (three columns of 4 stars per column. 12 stars on each side for a total of 24). The Phrase “Missouri Centennial” arcs along the top rim with a dot at the end of each word, and the name “Sedalia” (location of the centennial celebration) is incused below the figures. In addition, at ground level just to the right of the gun butt is a Monogram of “RA the artists initials.
General Market Notes
After the design was complete Mr. James Montgomery, Chairman of the exposition suggested the addition of a 2*4 monogram in the field to denote Missouri as the 24th state of the union. He argued that these “Special Edition” coins could be sold at a premium to offset the $1750 cost of creating the design and model. The idea was adopted, but there is some uncertainty as to how many 2*4 coins were actually minted. Contemporary accounts indicate 5,000 were minted but current authors argue that the relative number of surviving coins of each type require that there were more like 9,000 “Special Edition” coins minted. What is certain is that the total initial striking was 50,028 (with 28 coins held for assay) and that by the end of the program 29,600 had been returned to be melted, leaving the Net mintage at 20,428. (Modern sources claim that 9,000 are the 2*4 variety with 11,400 the plain variety (an almost equal split), while sources at the time of the mintage and distribution put the split at 5,000/16,400 or over three to one in favor of the plain variety). Either way the mintage is relatively low.