Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar Plaster
Designed and Sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser

Unique in Private Hands


This is a plaster for the Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar that was designed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser. It is one of two known and is in superb original condition.

Photographs of a different set of obverse and reverse plasters were taken by a federal government employee and appear in The National Commission of Fine Arts Ninth Report (July 1, 1919 - June 30, 2021).

The Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar was first released by the U.S. Mint as a Silver Commemorative in 1926. Laura Gardin Fraser designed the obverse, and her sculptor husband James Earle Fraser designed the reverse. Laura Fraser did the models for both sides of the coin. The obverse depicts a map of the United States behind an Indian. The reverse depicts a wagon drawn by two oxen.


According to PCGS:
Which side is the obverse of the Oregon Trail half dollar and which is the reverse has been a matter of debate among numismatists. The Frasers, who certainly should have known as they designed it, considered the Indian side the obverse and the wagon side the reverse, but Mint reports named the wagon side as the obverse, for it bears the date, and the Indian side the reverse, for it bears the mintmark (in instances of branch mint issues).
Laura Gardin Fraser was a noted American Sculptor and was the first woman to design a U.S. commemorative coin. Her officially adopted designs include the 1921 Alabama Half Dollar, the 1922 Grant Gold Dollar and Half Dollar, and the 1925 Vancouver Half Dollar.

This plaster truly belongs in a museum or private collection of Laura Gardin Fraser coin designs. It would be the centerpiece in a collection of United States Silver Commemorative Half Dollars.

This plaster was previously from a Museum/Gallery that acquired this directly from the Fraser Estate. Also in their collection were the original plasters of Laura Gardin Fraser's 1932 Quarter design.


The Medal Maker featuring Laura Gardin Fraser

This video was produced by the Medallic Art Company which was one of the longest-lasting private mints in the United States. It ceased operations in 2016 after 113 years. In 2018, the American Numismatic Society acquired the archival remains and intellectual property rights.

Here is a another Laura Gardin Fraser original plaster of a U.S. coin design.

1932 Washington Quarter Reverse Plaster
Designed and Sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser

Plaster & Original Photograph from her Estate
Adopted Reverse Design for the 1999 $5 Gold
George Washington Commemorative
UNIQUE 11½" Plaster Model




Die Trials are featured in my NLG Award winning book,
World's Greatest Mint Errors.