Among the list of inconsequential or trivial events being commemorated at the end of the Classic Commemorative Program the 300th anniversary of the founding of York County Maine is certainly near the top of the list! Authorized by Congress on June 26th 1936 the coins were sold by the “York County Tercentenary Commemorative Coin Commission” under the direction of Mr. Walter P. Nichols an ardent Numismatist, (and eventually a Governor of the American Numismatic Association).
Though it is difficult to distinguish the obverse from the reverse, on the center of one side of the coin, a wooden stockade surrounding four log cabins is depicted. The sun is rising behind the stockade and a farmer or settler rides a horse in the foreground along with three other figures. The stockade is purported to be Brown’s Garrison, the original settlement in York County (located in what is now the town of Saco Maine). The edge is ringed by the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “HALF DOLLAR” in block letters with the words separated by dots and the two inscriptions separated by a five pointed star at each end. “LIBERTY” is overlaid on the rising sun in the background. The Motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is under the stockade and the initials "WHR" for Water H. Rich a Portland Painter and the coins designer are under the motto.
The flip side of the coin shows a shield which is the Seal of York County. The shield has a cross on it and a pine tree in the upper left quadrant. The inscriptions “YORK COUNTY" and “FIRST COUNTY IN MAINE” follow the same format as the other side with dots between the words and stars between the phrases. The shield is flanked by the tercentennial dates 1636 on the left and 1936 on the right with the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST" below the shield.
General Market Notes
The original legislation allowed for 30,000 coins maximum to be produced at only one mint facility. The initial mintage, at the Philadelphia Mint was 25,000 with an additional 15 reserved for assay. As the coins were slow to sell, the final 5,000 coins were never minted. In fact the Commemorative Commission continued to sell these coins well into the 1950s and when the Nichols estate was liquidated in the mid-1980s a small hoard was found among Mr. Nichols collection.