Sometimes in the life of a nation, a place (or person, anniversary or event) is of such significance that people feel it must be honored with the issuance of a special coin as a form of tribute. We call these coins commemoratives and the United States has usually chosen the half dollar denomination for such issues. While some like the Columbian Half Dollar circulated in large quantities for several years, they were not made to be used as much as for a keepsake to recognize an event or accomplishment. They are true coins with a face value and made by the United States government but could be considered in part a souvenir. As each is distinctive and a work of art (sometimes with very stiff competition for acceptance of a particular artists design) they are among the most beautiful of United States coins and pleasing to own if you select one that appeals to you or complete an entire set.
Good reference works for those more interested in this type of coin are The Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins by Walter Breen and Commemorative Coins of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia by Q. David Bowers.
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