Featured 1934 to 1938 Daniel Boone Bicentennial Half Dollar

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by leeg, Jul 28, 2020.

  1. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Hi all,
    Felt like sharing a little history this week.

    Pinnacle Rarieties Boone.png
    Image courtesy of Pinnacle Rarities. A coin I used to own.

    Mintage numbers are in the body of the text. Designed by Augustus Lukeman and distributed by C. Frank Dunn. In 1935 the exploitation of collectors began.

    Authorized by Congress on May 26, 1934 and issued in commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Daniel Boone.


    Obverse: Depicts Daniel Boone. Around the rim is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – HALF DOLLAR.

    Reverse: Depicts Daniel Boone with Shawnee Chief Blackfish. Boone is holding a scroll and rifle. Chief Blackfish is holding a tomahawk. To the left of Boone is Boonesboro blockhouse. To the right of Chief Blackfish is a setting sun. To the left it states DANIEL BOONE BICENTENNIAL. To the right it states PIONEER YEAR. In 1934 there is no date on the reverse above PIONEER YEAR. On coins minted from November of 1935 through 1938 a ‘1934’ was placed above PIONEER YEAR to commemorate the anniversary of Boone’s birth year. At the top is seen IN GOD WE TRUST – E PLURIBUS UNUM.

    “. . . The Daniel Boone Bicentennial Commission was created by the Kentucky Legislature January 30, 1934. Shortly thereafter Mr. Dunn (Secretary of the Commission) went to Washington, personally wrote the bill to create the Pioneer National Monument, to be composed of the sites of Boonesboro, Boone’s Station, Bryan’s Station, and Blue Licks Battlefield, and through the able sponsorship of Senator Alben W. Barkley and Congressman Virgil Chapman had the measure passed and approved by the President. Mr. Dunn also devised the plan of financing the purchase of the shrines by the sale of memorial half-dollar, and secured the same active co-operation in having the latter bill passed and approved.

    Models for the coin were prepared by Mr. Augustus Lukeman, noted sculptor of New York, at the direction of the Commission, and the half-dollars are expected to be minted by October 1st. The designs embrace a profile of Boone on the obverse side of the coin and, on the reverse side, the scene of the negotiations at Boonesboro between Boone and Chief Black Fish of the Shawnees on the eve of the memorable nine-day siege of Fort Boonesboro in September, 1778.

    The sale of the coins, which is to be conducted nationally, and the acquisition of the Pioneer National Monument properties will set up, when taken over by the Federal Government as provided for in the Act of Congress, a National Shrine that will be a counterpart west of the Alleghenies of the Colonial Shrine established by the Government in Virginia.

    It will be a permanent memorial to the valor, the sacrifices, and the conquests of the frontiersmen who played such an important and effective part in the American Revolution. . .”1

    1. The Numismatist, Daniel Boone Memorial Half Dollar, January, 1935, p. 23.

    eBay_Senator Alben Barkley, 650 x .png

    “. . .To raise funds for the celebration and for the purchase of land for PIONEER NATIONAL MONUMENT Dr. Douglass has suggested that the U.S. Government be asked to mint $50,000 or $100,000 worth of Boone half-dollars to be sold for $1.00 each by the Commission. Dies were made for such a half-dollar in 1921, upon request of the State of Missouri, and these dies could be adjusted to fit the present celebration, Dr. Douglas also suggests that the Yale Press film of Daniel Boone be procured and exhibited to raise funds. The University of Kentucky has this film leased—it consists of three reels—and has offered to make it available to the Commission under their lease. . .


    At the suggestion of Secretary Dunn, the Government was asked to issue 600,000 Daniel Boone half-dollars. The Commission also decided that the Missouri coin was not appropriate, and the commission to design a new coin was awarded to the distinguished New York sculptor, Augustus Lukeman, with the concurrence of the United States Commission on Fine Art. The coin will be a masterpiece of Art. It is proper to say that Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the Mint, and Miss Mary M. O’Reilly, Assistant Director, are taking an interest in the issuance of a notably artistic and historic coin in commemoration of American Pioneers of the West. . .The credit for the passage of the Boone Coin Bill belongs to Senator Albin W. Barkley and Representative Virgil Chapman, who worked early and late, and won where many bills failed. President Roosevelt also showed an interest in the success of both bills, which were promptly approved on their passage. . .2

    2. American Pioneer Records and the Boone Bulletin, a Magazine of History and Genealogy, Our Pioneer National Monument, published annually by American Order of Pioneers, Incorporated and Boone Family Association, Incorporated, Vol. II, 1933-1934, Whole No. 9 (issued for the year ending June 30, 1934), p. 132-133.

    New York School_Daniel Boone Bust.png

    Hall of Fame bust of Boone by Albert Polasek. Courtesy of the Snyder Family, Daniel Boone-Media.

    To the Secretary of the Boone Bicentennial Commission Frank Dunn from Augustus Lukeman on July 21, 1934, regarding the design of the Daniel Boone Bicentennial Half Dollar.

    In reference to your letters of July 17 and 18th, I am afraid that we are approaching the subject of the design and execution as well, from opposite angles. First, the profile that was ‘turned down’ and ‘bears no likeness to any known Boone’ is a blow to me. In the first place, the Bust in the Hall of Fame is so placed that the back of it is directly in the lift and the face, facing in, is usually in shadow. It is impossible as the bust is placed to get a profile of it except in silhouette. Since Mr. Douglas has had so much to do with making this composite head, surely he must have photographs of it and if will dispatch to me a photograph of the profile, I shall be very glad to make it more the type of likeness that he has in mind. You say in your letter that the Kentuckians feel that the statue done by Enid Yandell is more the likeness they feel Daniel Boone may have borne.


    Head and torso detail of statue of Daniel Boone by Enid Yandell on Eastern Parkway in Louisville. The Filson Club commissioned her to sculpt a likeness of pioneer Daniel Boone. Yandell used Boone’s own hunting shirt, flintlock rifle, tomahawk, scalping knife, and powder horn while modeling the statue. She also used The Filson’s portrait of Boone as a guide. The plaster cast of the Boone statue was shown at several exhibitions. It was not until 1906 that C. C. Bickel commissioned the work in bronze for the city of Louisville. Courtesy of Alan Canon at English Wikipedia.

    Enjoy! Much, much, more to follow.
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  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the post.
    leeg likes this.
  4. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder Supporter

    NIce history lesson, Lee! I lookforward to the next installment. I think the only known portrait of Boone made while alive was done by Chester Harding in 1820, the year of Boone's death. Most of the full length portrait deteriorated, but the head, I believe is in the National Portrait Gallery. It's a 3/4 facing portrait, but rotating it in profile and dialing back the age, I think the coin has a reasonable resemblance to Boone as a young man.
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  5. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Engraved portrait of Daniel Boone by Alonzo Chapple (Chappel, Alonzo, 1828-1887). This photograph is of an engraved portrait of frontiersman Daniel Boone (1734-1820) sitting on rock with his rifle and with his dog beside him. The engraving's lower border has Boone's signature. American artist and book illustrator Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887) created the original painting ca. 1861. Chappel portrays Boone as an older man with white hair but still rugged and purposeful. Courtesy of Ohio History Connection.


    Smithsonian Website: National Portrait Gallery, John
    James Audubon: January 27, 1851 by Warren Perry.

    If you will take them the two designs and place them in the hands of the Fine Arts Commission with the suggestions and changes which you propose to me, I will be very glad to adhere to whatever criticism they shall make of the designs. But in any case, I should have to have the plaster models returned to me so that I can make changes, but I do not feel that any progress can be made until the Fine Arts Commission see these models and pass their judgment on them for as things now stand it is evidently the purpose of some member of your commission to kill the design entirely.

    When I volunteered my services to the extent of doing the model for you for half price, I understood that your commission lacked funds entirely for this work. I suppose that it was the purpose of your commission to have the work done by an artist whose reputation was sufficiently established that his work when placed before the Art Commission might be acceptable to the Government as well as have the sales value that would meet the public’s liking. If this is not the purpose of your commission then for heaven’s sake, do not let me hold you up any longer. As I have just stated, over a month of my time has already been consumed on the models which I sent to you. It would take a lot of time to make new models if I had the time to take away from the work that I now have in hand. However, I can make any reasonable changes in small details on the model’s in a week’s time, but I cannot work on uncertainty as to whether the general scheme is approved or ‘turned down’ by the Fine Arts Commission. If you wish me to go with you to Washington when you are ready to present the design, which is only right and proper, I shall be glad to do so at my expense. As the matter stands and as I see it, it is just a compromise between conflicting interests who apparently don’t know the first essentials necessary in the sales value as well as the design of a coin. Whether I am to proceed with this work further, or not, will you be kind enough to return to my summer studio at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the models and let me know whether your commission, in all fairness to me as an artist, wish me to meet them in Washington to present the models the Mine (sic) Arts Commission for their consideration.

    P.S. The block house fort design as indicated in the model is the Boone block house fort. The repetition of dates, 1734-1934 on the coin, I am not convinced will help the coin in any way for the simple reason that the inscription reads ‘Daniel Boone Bicentennial’ and opposite the composition ‘Pioneer Year.’ The coin itself must be dated according to law, therefore bears the numerals 1934. This matter of dates as conflicting, to my mind should be taken up with the Mint and if they feel that necessity of having extra numerals on the coin, I should be perfectly willing to ‘kill the composition’ by taking out the dog. The only criticism I feel as to the dog is whether it should be a pointer or a setter. If a pointer, the tail should be up, and if a setter, the tail should be down. I see no necessity of making a drawing because the model is completed except for the changes that the commission have suggested. The sooner we take these models to Washington, the sooner you can get your coinage.


    Old Fort at Boonesboro. Courtesy History of Kentucky by the late Lewis Collins, Judge of Madison County court, p. 529.
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  6. Ray Jackson

    Ray Jackson Member

    My name is Ray Jackson and I am a Boone descendant via Daniel Boone’s older sister, Elizabeth Boone who married William Grant. I cherish Daniel Boone history and made it a point to obtain a copy of this coin many years ago. There is many a myth about this man and here is some fact versus fiction for any of those interested.

    In the early 60s, Fess Parker portrayed Daniel Boone. Fess Parker was 6’5 1/2”, Daniel Boone was roughly 5’8”.

    Fess Parker , fresh from portraying Davy Crockett, wore a coon skin cap, Daniel Boone wore the popular Beaver hat.

    Also in the show, Daniel Boone and Rebecca were shown to have only three children, in reality they had ten.

    The two children portrayed were Jemima (Veronica Cartwright), as the oldest, and Israel (Darby Hinton), as the Youngest. In reality, Israel Boone was the older one and was killed at the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782. I had Grant family fight in this battle as well.

    My fifth great grandfather, John Grant (son of Elizabeth Boone and William Grant) served as a financial assistant to Daniel Boone. He and Daniel Boone had a warrant sworn out after them during some financial business went haywire.

    Family lore has it that when Kentucky asked Missouri back for the body of Daniel Boone when he became famous that in reality they received the body of a slave. I dont believe that to be true, but who will admit it.

    Both Daniel Boone and John Grant served on the early Kentucky legislature, Daniel twice, John four times.

    I love the history of the Boone and Grant family and this coin that i purchased years ago i hope to pass on as a family heirloom. I also hope that my descendants love the Boone - Grant history. I also host the William Grant and Elizabeth Boone Historical Society on Facebook And would welcome any Book or Grant descendants become a part of this group.
    Again, thank you for posting the information on the coin. I shall add it to my pages of history notes. Ray Jackson

    Attached Files:

  7. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Thank you so much Ray for sharing your personal history here!!
  8. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Yeah thanks everyone.
    leeg likes this.
  9. Worn Out

    Worn Out Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up Lee. Thank you!

    Here is my Boone

    I also own this Press photo of the Plasters.
    20200729_115541 copy.jpeg 20200729_115514 copy.jpeg

    Original mailing envelope with Dennison coin holder
    20200729_115158 copy.jpg

    And the wedge pocket coin mailer
    20200729_115619 copy.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
    leeg, Lehigh96, markr and 3 others like this.
  10. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder Supporter

    Some neat artifacts. I enjoyed Mr Jackson's contribution.
    leeg and markr like this.
  11. markr

    markr Active Member

    I do not know about anyone else, but I have found it difficult to locate Boones that are nicely toned. This has kept me from finishing my set of Boones because I lack a 35/34 S and I currently cannot find one I like enough to bid strongly enough to win it. I recall I foolishly let one get away several years ago, before I realized how tough it would be to locate one that is similar. So, I am still hunting my "white whale," a decently toned 35/34 S Boone.

    Anyway, here are two of my Boone commemorative coins. The first is a 1935, MS 67, ex-Young. The second is a 1937, MS 67, ex-Nobody-in-particular.


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  12. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Some nice Boone's and other cool stuff.

    To Augustus Lukeman from the Secretary of the Boone Bicentennial Commission Frank Dunn on July 23, 1934, regarding the design of the Daniel Boone Bicentennial Half Dollar.

    I have just received your airmail letter of July twenty-first. Either you or we have misunderstood the position of the United States Fine Arts Commission. The Fine Arts Commission notified you to have the models delivered to the Commission, and for approval send the models back to them at Washington. I wrote to you on this effect. I can readily see the advisability of that action on the part of the fine Arts Commission as if anybody had calculated to pass on the authenticity of the historical representation it would be this Commission, which consists mainly of Kentucky historians.

    In behalf of our Commission, permit me to say the Executive Committee which passed on the model was unanimous in their criticisms and rejection. From my own knowledge of Kentucky history I wrote you when you first described to me your proposal to depict the treaty scene, and that that you evidently had confused Boonesboro with the Treaty of Wataugh. It was Colonel Henderson’s and not Boone’s treaty and it took place before there was a Boonesboro.

    You will recall also that we urgently requested you at that time to substitute a tomahawk for the peace-pipe and particularly to see that the Indian chief represented a Shawnee. I even outlined the dress of a Shawnee chief with a request that you check up on me. Colonel Douglas wrote you at the same time and requested that you see the exhibition in the Museum of National History in New York. I recall that I mentioned that a Shawnee Indian wore buckskin trousers, while you dress him in a loin cloth, with a helmet instead of a shaved head and scalp-lock. Then to simplify matters and expedite delivery I wired you to abandon the whole scene and substitute a corner of fort Boonesboro in accordance with instructions received by us just at that time from the Fine Arts Commission.

    Just as you requested, I will forward the model. Our Executive Committee meets Wednesday, and will apparently have to arrange as quickly as possible to get models that will be approved by the Commission and the United States Fine Arts Commission, as the delay has embarrassed us greatly.

    P.S. The idea of the dog was condemned by the Executive Committee. The famous picture of Boone and his rifle and dog was not Boone at all – it was Audubon!”3

    3. The Authoritative Reference on Commemorative Coins 1892-1954, Kevin Flynn, published by Kyle Vick, 2008, p. 260-261.

    “Courtesy of the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts.
    Minutes of Meeting held in Washington, D.C., July 26, 1934.

    The following members were present:

    Mr. Moore, Chairman,

    Mr. Swartwout,

    Mr. Clarke,

    Mr. Howells,

    Mr. Lawrie,

    Also Mr. H. P. Caemmerer, Executive Secretary and Administrative Officer.

    Boone Memorial Coin: Mr. Boone Douglass of Washington called and submitted the following statement protesting against a design made by Mr. Augustus Lukeman for the Boone Bicentennial half-dollar which has been authorized by Congress:

    July 26, 1934.

    U. S. Commission of Fine Arts,
    The Navy Building,
    Washington, D. C.


    As a member of the Kentucky Daniel Boone Bicentennial Commission, designated by Act of Congress to receive 600,000 Daniel Boone Half-Dollars to be sold at $1.00 each for the purpose of purchasing land for the PIONEER NATIONAL MONUMENT embracing the site of old Fort Boonesborough (1775), and the site of other lands connected with the struggle to save the West for the United States, in which Boone played a leading part.

    A bronze bust of Boone was placed in the Hall of Fame in 1926. The sculptor was selected by a Committee composed of three past presidents of the National Sculpture Society. A portrait bust, based upon Harding’s painting of Boone, the only one taken from life at the age of 84 years, and supplemented by a study of written descriptions of Boone left by those who knew him, was developed, and is now accepted as the standard portrait of Boone during his life in Kentucky. In the more than eight years since it was unveiled there has been no adverse criticism. For this reason it was selected to appear in profile for one side of the coin.

    Mr. Augustus Lukeman happened to be in Lexington, Ky., on June 3, 1934, and was consulted and engaged with the understanding that he submits ‘proposed models, in two weeks, of Boone in profile for one side and a corner of the fort for the other side.’

    Though urged to submit preliminary sketches, he submitted until July 11, when a model showing the head of Boone in profile, but not the likeness of the Hall of Fame bust. He described the other side, which was not what was requested, and furthermore, was historically incorrect. Of this Mr. Lukeman was notified.

    About July 19, one month later than the specified time of submitting ‘proposed medals,’ Mr. Lukeman submitted models of the two sides of the coin in defiance of the wishes of the Kentucky Daniel Boone Bicentennial Commission. These models were unanimously rejected, and corrections required, which Mr. Lukeman has refused to make.

    The whole project is greatly endangered by this delay.

    Very respectfully,

    (Signed) Wm. Boone Douglass

    A letter had been received from Mr. Lukeman saying that he desires to have his models submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts. Mr. Douglass said the Boone Bicentennial Commission wants the head of Boone to be the same as that of the Hall of Fame bust of Boone by Albert Polasek.


    Wm. Boone Douglass. JSTOR, The Douglas Archives. Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, Vol. 33, No. 102 (January, 1935), pp. 64-69 (6 pages).
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  13. Mike Davis

    Mike Davis Well-Known Member

    Amazing research!
    leeg likes this.
  14. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    The Commission considered the matter and decided that until a design for the coin is submitted to the Commission by the Secretary of the Treasury, no action can be taken by the Commission. The Commission took the opportunity to protest by letter to the Director of the Mint against controversies that arise in connection with securing designs for memorial coins. (Exhibit D) A letter was also sent to Mr. Lukeman. (Exhibit D-1)

    Exhibit D

    July 27, 1934.

    Dear Madam:

    Under Executive Order the designs for United States coins are submitted by the Secretary of the Treasury to the Commission of Fine Arts for advice. Of late Congress has authorized a considerable number of memorial coins and controversies in regard to the designs and the designers have come frequently to this Commission. One such controversy has arisen over the design for the Daniel Boone Memorial Coin.


    Oil sketch of Daniel Boone by Chester Harding, the only portrait of Boone painted from life. This was painted when Boone was 84 years old, a few months before his death. Harding painted Boone in June 1820 while Boone was living with his daughter Jemima Boone Callaway in Missouri. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston. Reproduced from Alistair Cooke, Alistair Cooke's America (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1973), p. 157.

    To the people who have come to the Commission we have uniformly stated that until a design is submitted to the Commission by the Director of the Mint through the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commission have no power to act. Such submission having been made, the Commission are always ready to discuss the design with the artist, with a view of making helpful suggestions for the production of a coin which represents the dignity of the Government and, therefore, should be designed in accordance with good practice among medalists.

    I am writing you this letter so that you will understand that the Commission desires to cooperate with the Bureau of the Mint in securing the best possible designs for coins by giving such advice as seems to them desirable. The decision has always been with the Secretary of the Treasury.

    It would be interesting to the Commission to know the number of memorial coins struck during recent years, together with the circulation attained by such coins.

    For the Commission of Fine Arts:

    Very respectfully yours,

    (Signed) Charles Moore,


    The Honorable
    The Director of the Mint,
    Washington, D. C.

    Exhibit D-1

    July 27, 1934.

    My dear Mr. Lukeman:

    Your letter of July 21, with regard to the Boone Centennial Coin, has been received.

    I am sorry to learn that there has been a controversy in regard to the matter of the design, and I regret to have to say to you that until a design for the coin has been submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commission is powerless to take action in the matter.

    Very sincerely yours,

    (Signed) Charles Moore,


    Mr. Augustus Lukeman,
    160 West 86th Street,
    New York, N. Y.”4

    To the Commission of Fine Arts from the President of the Boone Family Association William Boone Douglas on August 16, 1934, regarding the design of the Daniel Boone Bicentennial Half Dollar.

    Through the courtesy of Mr. Dunn, Secretary of the Kentucky Daniel Boone Bicentennial Commission, of which I have the honor of being a member, I have received a photograph of the design modeled by Mr. Lukeman, sculptor, New York City. Mr. Dunn writes that the design has received the unanimous approval of the Commission who were present and voting.

    I am at a loss to explain why the Commission would approve this coin design which is quite erroneous as the design previously rejected. Indeed it appears to me to be the same design except for the removal of the dog.

    I presume that the face in the profile is intended for Daniel Boone, though no one familiar with the life painting of Boone supplemented by four written descriptions of him would recognize it. It could be called by any other name and answer just as well. Mr. Lukeman has followed his own statue of Boone for a located on the estate of some Kentuckian. It has never been accepted or referred to as a likeness.

    The Hall of Fame bust of Boone, unveiled more than eight years ago, after approval by a committee composed of the leading sculptors of America, has never been criticized. As stated editorially by the Lexington Herald, a newspaper that has given more study of Boone than any other publication, the Hall of Fame bust shows Boone as he was in Kentucky. Mr. Lukeman was instructed to follow that portrait. Your secretary has a magazine showing this bust. If you will compare it with the coin design you will see no similarity.

    As to the other side of the coin which is supposed now to show Boone meeting the Indian Chief Blackfish in front of the fort just before the attack which both sides expected. The Indian has a tomahawk, while Boone is armed with a scroll of paper with which to hit him in case of a fight. Why the scroll of paper? It may be that it represents an exchange of a treaty for sale of the land, but Boone was not there, and that was the earlier cause of rejection of the coin. I think the Kentucky Commission has become discouraged and is will (sic) to accept anything to get the sale of the coin started. But the United States has an interest which you gentlemen are to protect. An inaccurate coin, like an inaccurate history, does a serious injury to the people of the United States who look to it for truth of detail.”5

    4 Commission of Fine Arts Records.

    5 The Authoritative Reference on Commemorative Coins 1892-1954, Kevin Flynn, published by Kyle Vick, 2008, p. 261-262.
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