The Oregon Trail Memorial Association, Inc., a New York corporation,
for reasons best known to itself, sought in early 1926 to have
Congress authorize no less than 6,000,000 commemorative half
dollars. In the grandiloquent language of the bill, these were
"to commemorate the heroism of the fathers and mothers who traversed
the Oregon Trail to the Far West with great hardship, daring,
and loss of life, which not only resulted in adding new State
to the Union, but earned a well-deserved and imperishable fame
to the pioneers; to honor the 20,000 dead that lie buried in
unknown graves along 20,000 miles of the great highway of history;
to rescue the various important points along the trail from
oblivion and to commemorate by suitable monuments, memorial
or otherwise, the tragic events associated with that immigration,
erecting them either along the trail itself or elsewhere in
localities appropriate for the purpose, including the City of
Washington..." Possibly because the stated purpose was nationalistic
rather than obscurely local, the House Coinage Committee reported
the bill favorably, and it became the Act of May 17, 1926.
The Indian-no single tribe
is represented stands with blanket and bow, but without peace
pipe, his gesture seemingly warning the westward-bound whites,
"So far and no further." (His position has been irreverently
compared to that of a traffic policeman demanding "Halt!") Behind
him is a Map of the United States on which a line of Conestoga
wagons is headed for what is now the State of Washington; but
the map shows no state boundaries. On issues possessing mintmarks,
the D or S for Denver or San Francisco appears right of the
F in HALF. A Conestoga wagon heading for the setting sun, drawn
by oxen led by a pioneer, his wife and baby within, dominates
it is the joint monogram JE/LGF for the designers, James Earle
Fraser (reverse) and Laura Gardin Fraser (obverse). There is
no stated reason for the five stars-perhaps they represent states
or territories crossed enroute from St. Joseph, Missouri on
the way west.
Summary: Considered one of the most
American of all US Coins and one of the most aesthetically pleasing.
"Oregon Trails" as they are known are available starting from
as little as $100.00 to over $1000.00 for a new perfect example.
Investment Recommendation: US Rare
Coin Investments recommends building a complete set (14 different
Oregon Trails) for investment!