Authorized on February 15th, 1925. This coin was originally presented to Congress as an amendment to the authorization for the Battle of Bennington Vermont Half Dollar, and was passed only after a game of political give and take. The coin celebrated the Diamond Jubilee, or 75th anniversary of California’s admission to the union in 1850. The design was executed by Jo Mora, an artist living and working in Carmel California. The design, though initially panned by James Earl Fraser in his capacity as a member of the Commission of Fine Arts as “Inexperienced and Amateurish” was selected by the “San Francisco Citizens Commission” and has since been praised as one of the most artistic designs of the classic commemorative period.
The authorization was for not more than 300,000 coins. The initial striking at the San Francisco Mint included 150,000 coins with an additional 200 struck and held for assay. Sales were slower than hoped and competition from the other commemoratives of that year (Ft. Vancouver, Lexington-Concord & Stone Mountain) didn’t help. Eventually 63,606 coins were returned to the mint to be melted, leaving a net mintage of 89,594.
The observe design is uniquely appropriate to the founding of the state of California. It depicts a prospector in period clothing, kneeling at the side of creek facing left panning for gold. “Liberty” arcs across the top of the coin above his head. “In God We Trust” is inscribed directly in front of him and “California’s Diamond Jubilee” is inscribed below with dots between the words. The date 1925 is below this inscription.
The reverse is a tribute to the “Bear Flag Republic” which was formed after California won its independence from Mexico. The design is dominated by a Grizzly Bear, native to California, walking across the coin to the left. The motto “E Pluribus Unum” arcs above the bear, while “United States of America” is inscribed in two straight lines below it (all words separated by dots). “Half Dollar” in much smaller font is arcs below the lower inscription, and the “S” mint mark is centered directly below that against the rim.
General Market Notes
This issue has always been very popular with collectors, but can be difficult to find in high grades.