On 14 January 1925, Congress authorized the minting of no more than 300,000 Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollars. Proceeds from the sale were to benefit two separate town “committees” that were planning to celebrate the Sesquicnetennial, one from Lexington and the other from Concord. Both committees, acting on the advice of James Earl Fraser, who sat on the Commission of Fine Art, approached Sculpture Chester Beach to design the coin. Beach agreed to create the design and suggested that the two committees split the cost of his fee, which they did. The Concord Commission was given the right to specify the design for the obverse, and asked Beach to execute a rendition of the famous Daniel Chester French statue of the “Minute Man” that had been erected in Concord in 1875. The Lexington Committee who specified the reverse design asked for a likeness of the belfry on the Old Lexington Church. Beach accepted both suggestions and even consulted with French who was still alive and living in the Concord area, asking his permission to include the inscription “Concord Minute-Man” on the coin. French had titled his statue “Grand Concord Man” when he created it in 1875, but the “Minute-Man” moniker had had become the common name by the early 1900’s. Beach's biggest challenge (beside the petty bickering between the commissions) was the requirement that the coins be ready to distribute by the annual April 19th “Patriots Day” celebration, a legal holiday in Massachusetts since 1894!
Beach worked quickly and completed the designs and forwarded them to the Philadelphia Mint in time for the initial strikes to be available for the April 19th ceremonies. The balance of the 162,099 coin mintage were struck in April and May (including 99 Coins for assay). Sales during the celebration and latter were brisk and eventually all but 86 of the coins were sold, leaving a net mintage of 162,013.
The obverse design is dominated by the French statue, seen from a low angle. The statue depicts a Continental Militiaman holding his rifle in his right hand while resting his left on a plow which is slightly behind and to his left. His coat is draped over the plow handle. The inscriptions include “United States of America” along the upper rim and “Patriot Half Dollar” along the lower rim. The inscriptions are separated by a star at each end. “In God We Trust” is in the right field slightly above the centerline and “Concord Minute-Man” is in the left, slightly below center.
The reverse shows an image of the belfry of the Old Lexington Church (which burned down in 1909). The inscription “Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial" runs along the upper rim from about 7 O’clock to about 5 O’clock. The date 1775-1925 is at the bottom with the inscription “Old Belfry, Lexington.” above it. The belfry appears to be a split log structure with a single door in the front wall and no windows. It includes a latticework copula at the top
General Market Notes
Many of these coins were sold as souvenires to the general public rather than to the numismatic community, so many were initially mishandled. In addition, many were placed into circulation during the depression. This accounts for wide range of wear on available coins today.