Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar

The Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar was an American fifty-cent piece struck in 1925 at the Philadelphia Mint. Its main purpose was to raise money on behalf of the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association for the Stone Mountain Memorial near Atlanta, Georgia. Designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the coin features a depiction of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on the obverse and the caption: "Memorial to the Valor of the Soldier of the South" on the reverse. The piece was also originally intended to be in memory of the recently deceased president, Warren G. Harding, but no mention of him appears on the coin.

In the early 20th century, proposals were made to carve a large sculpture in memory of General Lee on Stone Mountain, a huge rock outcropping. The owners of Stone Mountain agreed to transfer title on condition the work was completed within 12 years. Borglum was engaged to design the memorial, and proposed expanding it to include a colossal monument depicting Confederate warriors, with Lee, Jackson, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis leading them.

The work proved expensive, and the Association advocated the issuance of a commemorative half dollar as a fundraiser for the memorial. Congress approved it, though to appease Northerners, the coin was also made in honor of Harding, under whose administration work had commenced. Borglum designed the coin, which was repeatedly rejected by the Commission of Fine Arts. All reference to Harding was removed from the design by order of President Calvin Coolidge.

The Association sponsored extensive sales efforts for the coin throughout the South, though these were hurt by the firing of Borglum in 1925, which alienated many of his supporters, including the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A 1928 audit of the fundraising showed excessive expenses and misuse of money, and construction halted the same year; a scaled-down sculpture was eventually completed in 1970. Because of the large quantities issued—over a million remain extant—the Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar remains inexpensive compared with other U.S. commemoratives.