Authorized by an act of congress on June 21, 1934, the Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar marked the 300th anniversary of the founding of the colony of Connecticut. The authorization called for the minting of 25,000 pieces at one mint, but as was common in the days of silver coinage, 18 pieces were struck for assay. The entire mintage sold out quickly with the proceeds going to the Connecticut Tercentenary Commission to help fund the year long celebration.
Designation of the obverse and reverse on this coin is ambiguous. Mint records state that the eagle side is the obverse, while many references site the tree side. On the tree side, the central design element is “The Charter Oak” with a stylized representation of the Oak Tree where James Wadsworth hid the colonial charter when Sir Edmond Andros, Royal Governor under King James II tried to confiscate it to facilitate King James’ attempt to consolidate all of the New England colonies into the Dominion of New England in 1687. The tree, which was killed by a lightning strike and subsequently harvested for it's wood, shows a number of exaggerations for artistic license, including the cavity in the trunk where the charter was hidden and the leaves, which are hugely out of proportion to show detail. The Inscription “THE CHARTER OAK“ is included under the tree above the ground to the right with “CONNECTICUT” and 1635-1935 in two lines of text below centered below the tree. “IN GOD WE TRUST” arcs across the top from 10 O’clock to 12 O’clock, and “LIBERTY” to the right for about 1:30 to 2:30 both of these inscriptions are in relatively small font to allow maximum size for the image of the tree.
The eagle side shows a modern stylized eagle standing on a block with wings folded. The inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “HALF DOLLAR” run along the outside rim and the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is just in front of the eagles right talon on the left side of the coin. Just under the inscription a line of 13 stars rings the eagle, though they are often so faint as to not be noticeable. Two stars are below the right wing, three between the wing and head, seven from the head to the trailing edge of the wing and one under the wing.
The design was sculpted by Henry Kries and then sent to the Medallic Art Company of New York for reduction (a common practice of the mint at the time).