This issue, authorized on June 16, 1936 is a poster child for one of the common abuses of the classic commemorative period; the issuing of a coin to commemorate, and generate funds for, a strictly local event. In this case, the 250th anniversary of the chartering of the City of Albany, the state capital of New York. The coins were struck for and sold by the Albany Dongan Charter Coin Committee and the proceeds used to fund a local celebration. The authorization was for not more than 25,000 coins, which along with 13 additional coins for assay, were all struck in Philadelphia and forwarded to the Charter Committee for distribution. Sales were poor and in 1943, 7,342 coin were return to the mint and destroyed, leaving the net mintage of 17,671 coins.
The obverse, as defined by the designs creator Ms. Gertrude Lathrop, is dominated by an American Beaver facing right gnawing on a maple branch. The beaver is a central figure in the Albany City Seal, and the Maple is the Official Tree of the state of New York. The inscriptions on the obverse include “United States of America” across the top and “Half Dollar” across the bottom. Within each inscription, the words are separated by dots, and the two inscriptions are separated by small “V-Shaped” Maple seed pods. “E Pluribus Unum” is inside the outer inscription on the left above the Beavers rump, and “In God we Trust” is on the right above his head and shoulders.
The reverse shows three men (one on the left & two on the right) dressed in colonial garb. Their attire includes long jackets, wigs, swords and buckle shoes. The gentlemen are shaking hands after exchanging a document (clutched in the left hand of the foremost person on the right). Ms. Lathrop identified the gentleman on the left as New York Governor Thomas Dongan, who has just handed the city charter to Mr. Peter Schuyler, the city’s first mayor. Mr. Schuyler has his hat tucked under his left arm. The gentleman behind Mr. Schuyler is his secretary Mr. Robert Livingston. The governor stands in front of a small pine tree, and an eagle soars above the exchange. Inscriptions include “Albany N Y” along the bottom rim and “settled 1614, chartered 1686” along the top. All the words in these inscriptions are separated by dots, and the two inscriptions are separated by small doubled pine cones. The date 1936 is inscribed on the small crescent wedge the three gentlemen are standing on.