The Texas Centennial Half Dollar was authorized by Congress on June 15, 1933 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Texas independence in 1936. The coins were to be distributed through the American Legion Texas Centennial Committee in Austin with profits going to fund the centennial celebration. In keeping with common practice of the time, the coin was minted in multiple years (1934 – 1938) and at all three mint facilities in operation at the time. The initial authorization was for 1.5 million pieces. When the 1934 issues were struck, 205,000 piece were manufactured in Philadelphia with an additional 10,000 pieces struck in both Denver and San Francisco. Because the authorizing legislation required the coins be distributed at no cost to the government, the Centennial commission was required to reimburse the mint for costs in the year the coins were minted. To meet this obligation, 143,650 unsold Philadelphia pieces were returned to the mint at the end of the year to be melted. The inability to sell out the 1934 issue didn’t stop the commission from ordering additional coins in subsequent years, albeit in much smaller lots. Even so, from 1,000 to 1,500 coins were melted from each mint distribution in each of the following years resulting in some rather odd mintage numbers, (See year by year mintages on attached page)
The design for the coin was created by Texas artist Pompeo Coppini and is rich in Texas symbolism. In a departure from tradition, a large eagle dominates the obverse of the coin. The eagle is clutching an oak branch, complete with leaves and acorns in its right talon. The eagle stands in front of the Lone Star of Texas. The inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” arcs across the top of the coin from 8 O’clock to 4 O’clock, and in another break with tradition, the words are separated with hyphens instead of the much more common dots. The denomination “HALF DOLLAR” is flanked by 3 stars on each side (for a total of six), arcs across the bottom. The issue date is below the eagle slightly offset to the right. “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is to the left of the eagle under the left hand point of the star and “In God We Trust” Is above the right hand point.
The reverse design is rife with symbols and images of Texas history. The dominant figure is that of Winged Liberty in a flowing gown, kneeling slightly to the left of center. In her right hand is an olive branch while her left arm rests on the Alamo with the centennial dates “1836-1936” just below it. Tucked under Liberty’s raised and spread wings are images of two of Texas’ favorite sons, Sam Huston on the left and Stephen Austin on the right. Behind Miss Liberty are the six flags that have flown over the state of Texas; Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. The word “LIBERTY” is emblazoned on a banner across the six flag poles. The inscriptions “The Texas Independence Centennial” and “REMEMBER THE ALAMO” are separated by hyphens and ring the outer edge of the reverse. The artist initials “P C” are just to the right of the Alamo, and finally the mint marks are centered below Miss Liberty just above “THE” in “REMEMBER THE ALAMO”.
General Market Notes
The keys to the series are the 1938, 1938-D, & 1938-S issues.