The first U.S. commemorative coin was the Columbian Exposition half dollar, first issued in 1892 by the Philadelphia Mint. The coin features a bust of Christopher Columbus on one side and Santa Maria positioned over two globes on the reverse.
The first Columbian Exposition half dollar sold went to a firm that built Remington typewriters. As a way to attract public attention to its products, the firm bought it for $10,000. The remaining coins were distributed by banks and the Columbian Exposition for $1 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the explorer's discovery of the New World. A second issue of the coins was released in 1893 bearing the new date.