Grant Memorial Commemorative celebrates the centennial of
the birth of Ulysses S. Grant. Two varieties of half dollars
and gold dollars were produced for the centennial. A small
star on the obverse distinguishes one variety from the other.
Except for the inscription indicating the denomination,
the half dollars and the gold dollars are the same design.
Laura Gardin Fraser designed the coins based on a photograph
by Mathew Brady. The obverse shows a portrait of Grant in
profile, as a mature man, wearing a military uniform facing
right. In an arc above his head is the inscription UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA. To the left behind his collar is his
name ULYSSES and under it .S. To the right just below his
chin is GRANT. The centennial dates 1822 and 1922 are below
the truncation, and the denomination is below them. For
those issues that have the star, it is below the second
A in AMERICA, above the N in GRANT. The reverse shows a
clapboard house that Grant lived in when he was a boy. The
house is fenced in and surrounded by trees. In an arc above
the trees is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. To the left of them
is the motto E PLURI-BUS UNUM written on four lines.
Grant was born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio.
He spent his boyhood in Georgetown, Ohio. In 1843 he graduated
from West Point and served in the army during the Mexican
War of 1845 to 1848. In 1854 he resigned from the army and
worked as a real estate agent and farmer in St. Louis before
moving to Galena, Illinois. When the Civil War began he
was appointed colonel and later advanced to the rank of
brigadier general. He was promoted to the rank of major
general after he captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.
Later he fought at Shiloh and captured Vicksburg. As a result
of his victory at Chattanooga, President Lincoln appointed
him General of the American Armies. Lee surrendered to him
at Appomattox ending the war in 1865. In 1868 Grant was
elected president on the Republican ticket. He was reelected
in 1872. His years as president were graft-ridden and full
of corruption. In 1884 a New York bank failed, and Grant
lost most of his money. He finished writing his memoirs
four days before his death. The book earned $450,000, much
more than he made as president. He died on July 23, 1885
and is buried in his tomb in New York City.
The original act that was approved by Congress in 1922
provided for 10,000 gold dollars. In order to increase profits,
the Centenary Memorial Association requested that a special
mark be placed on half of the gold coins. They couldn’t
think of anything fitting for Grant so they came up with
the idea of a rather meaningless star. All of the 10,000
gold dollars were distributed. Half of them had an incuse
star added to create a variety for collectors; however,
most were not sold to the general public. Texas dealer B.
Max Mehl bought thousands of them for slightly more than
face value. Other dealers bought them as well. Today most
exist in mint state which leads to the conclusion that they
were not handled by the general public.