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BAY BRIDGE SAN FRANCISCO-OAKLAND
A neat silver commem for California!
The opening of the San Francisco Bay Bridge was the occasion for a special souvenir half dollar coin. The designs were the work of Jacques Schnier, a San Francisco artisan. The coins were struck at the San Francisco Mint in November, 1936. Once again, it is a matter of guesswork which side should be called the obverse. We follow tradition and list the side with the bear as the obverse. Biologists classify the animal as a California grizzly, and local history buffs will tell you that Jacques Schnier (whose initials Js are n right field) used Monarch II, "last of the grizzlies," as his model for the California state emblem. Well-nourished and sleek though he seems on the coins, Monarch II spent 26 years in a cage in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, for which reason this silver coin received much adverse criticism on the grounds that a caged animal is fit symbol for liberty (which word appears under his feet). On the other side, the Bay Bridge stretches from a point over the Embarcadero (with the famous Ferry tower in foreground: the old beside the new, as the opening of the bridge rendered ferry traffic obsolete ), towards Yerba Buena Island. (The present Treasure island, which would have been visible, is not represented because it is an artificial island and had not yet been completed.) Beyond Yerba Buena Island, the other half of Bay Bridge stretches out, towards Emeryville, Oakland and Berkeley-represented by cross-hatching-and in the extreme distance are Oakland-Berkey hills. In the left field are two steamships, too sketchy o identify as to type; they are apparently there only for reasons of balance. The whole compossion is stylized but with out the finesse of the best Art Deco; note the nuniform parallel waves and nearly uniform evergreen trees. On the original plaster model this was exaggerated to near stereotype. Purists would have reason to complain of inaccuracy in details both of the bridge, the location of Yerba Buena Island (which should have been to the south of the bridge rather than to its north as depicted on the coin), and the contours of hills; but the whole is intended more as emblematic than documentary.
A neat commemorative silver half dollar which will be a welcome addition to any collection or investment in rare coins.
Open the bridge to traffic, with celebrations on November 12-14, 1936, anticipated long before and commemorated by the Act of June 26, 1936, which authorized 200,000 coins.
Investment Recommendation:
US Rare Coin Investments recommends only high grade (MS-65-67) examples of this coin for investment! Valuations are such that an investment in roll (20 coins) could be considered by investors.


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