After an 8 year hiatus and with a new administration in the White House, promoters decided to go back to the well in 1946 to get authorization for a half dollar. The event of choice; the 100th anniversary of Iowa’s statehood. The Iowa State Centennial Commission with the help of the governor of Iowa pressured congress to pass a bill authorizing no more the 100,000 Half Dollars for mintage and sale in 1948. The bill passed the house in July and was signed into law on August 7, 1946.
Nellie Tayloe Ross, the mint director gave the task of designing the coin to Mr. Adam Pietz who had recently left the Mint Engraving staff for private practice. The initial designs were executed quickly, but were initially rejected by the commission of Fine Arts who requested minor changes to the Obverse design. The revised designs were submitted in early October and subsequently approved. The entire mintage of 100,057 coins (57 coins reserved for assay) were struck in October and shipped to the Iowa Centennial commission in Des Moines where they were sold through a lottery system at a price of $2.50 to Iowa residents and $3.00 to out of state customers.
There is some disagreement as to which side of the coin is the Obverse but mint documentation identifies the eagle side. The design on this side is adapted from the Iowa state seal and depicts an eagle with wings spread holding a banner in its mouth. Above the eagle between its spread wings are 29 stars to indicate Iowa’s place as the 29th state of the union. The words on the banner are somewhat confusing because they are broken into various segments; from top to bottom left to right these segments read: ”OUR LIBERITES”, “OUR RIGHTS WE”, “WE PRIZE” “WILL PROTECT” and on the bottom line the word “AND”. When pieced together appropriately the motto reads “”Our Liberties – We Prize – and- Our Rights We - Will Protect”. Underneath the banner in very small font “E Pluribus Unum” and wrapped around the outer edge, “Iowa Statehood Centennial” and “1846 – 1946” the dates are separated from each other and the text by a graphic somewhat reminiscent of a 4 leaf clover.
The reverse design shows a building identified underneath in very small font as “the Old Stone Capital in Iowa City”. Above the building is the motto “In God We Trust” and below is “Liberty”. Around the outside edge are the inscriptions “United States of America” across the top and “Half Dollar” along the bottom.
General Market Notes
All of the coins were sold (with little to no controversy or speculation) by the end of the 1946, with the exception of 1,000 coins, 500 of which were set aside for distribution on the 150th anniversary in 1996 and an additional 500 coins reserved for the bicentennial celebration in 2046! With a relatively high mintage, coins are readily available.