1935 Hudson, NY Sesquicentennial Half Dollar

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by leeg, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    I'm going to run down this chapter in my book project. I don't own one yet. Tough to find one I like at the right price point. Please share your thoughts, comments, images, etc. I'm far from all knowing.

    Mintage of 10,008, 8 coins reserved for assay. Designed by Chester Beach, and distributed by the Hudson Sesquicentennial Committee (Tristram Coffin, general chairman) through the First National Bank & Trust Company of Hudson, New York (John R. Evans represented the Committee in correspondence). Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

    Approved by Congress on May 2, 1935 and issued in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the City of Hudson, New York.


    Obverse: Neptune holding trident, riding on a spouting whale; in background a mermaid; around upper border, CITY OF HUDSON, N.Y.; on scroll surrounding chief design, ET DECUS E PRETIUM RECTI; between waves and lower border, E PLURIBUS UNUM, 1785-1935.

    Reverse: Ship sailing to left; in field a half moon; around upper border, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; in smaller letters, IN GOD WE TRUST; below ship, HUDSON; around lower border, HALF DOLLAR; Designers initials C.B. in monogram in lower left field.

    “A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Senator Copeland, of New York, on March 11, 1934, authorizing the coinage of 6,000 half dollars to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the City of Hudson, N. Y. The same bill was also introduced in the Senate. The report of the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures of the House recommended favorable action with an amendment making the issue 10,000 instead of 6,000. The bill was signed by the President on April 19.”1

    1The Numismatist, More Commemorative Coins Proposed, May, 1935, p. 300.

    City of Hudson letter to Chester Beach confirming his acceptance to design and model the Hudson half dollar. Courtesy of Stacks Bowers Galleries.

    “A Regular Meeting of the Common Council was held Friday, March 31, 1935 at 8:00 P. M.

    There were present: President Marshall, Alderman Hallenbeck, Cartwright, Crouse, Solomon, Thorn, and Weinman.

    On motion of Alderman Cartwright, seconded by Alderman Weinman, the reading of the minutes of the previous meeting was ordered dispensed with.

    The Clerk presented and read the following communication from His Honor Mayor Wise:

    May 31, 1935.

    The Honorable, the Common Council

    City of Hudson, New York


    In connection with the attached invoice voucher in the amount of $1,000.00, I believe that some explanation is due. As you know as part of the Sesqui-Centennial program we have considered the coinage of a commemorative half dollar which was authorized by Congress and the bill was signed by the President. In order to obtain the full approval for this coinage it is mandatory that we obtain a design which would meet the approval of the Director of the Mint, Secretary of the Treasury and the Commission of Fine Arts. The Commission also recommended a recognized sculptor whose design would be acceptable to the Commission. From this list was picked the name of Chester Beach, who has since fulfilled and designed the model which has been acceptable to the Commission of Fine Arts. The price of $1,000 is set by Congressional agreement. In as much as Mr. Beach has fulfilled his part of the agreement, I am asking that this invoice be approved in order that he may obtain his fee.

    You will recall that in the 1935-36 budget there was set up in this budget the amount of $1,200.00 for this celebration, this item of $1,000.00 should be charged against the $1,200.00 as set up in the budget.

    This coinage which calls for the issuing of 10,000 one-half dollars will be sold by us at a cost of $1.00 each. We believe that we will be able to raise approximately $3,000.00 over and above all expenses which might be incurred in connection with this commemorative coin.

    I would also ask that you authorize me to use the additional $200.00 remaining in the Sesqui Fund as set up in the budget. This additional $200.00 would be used for the Government minting charge.

    Very truly yours,

    Frank W. Wise,


    On motion of Alderman Weinman, seconded by Alderman Cartwright, this was received, placed on file, and the Mayor’s recommendations followed by the following vote:

    Ayes—President Marshall, Aldermen Hallenbeck, Cartwright, Crouse, Miller, Soloman, Thorn, Weinman.


    “. . . Meeting of May 31, 1935; on motion of Alderman Soloman, seconded by Alderman Weinman, the following bills were audited and ordered paid:

    Chester Beach - $1,000.00.”3

    2Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Hudson. Published by Order of the Common Council, The Hudson Press, Hudson, N. Y., May 31st, 1935, p. 54-55.

    3 Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Hudson, 1934-1935. Published by Order of the Common Council, The Hudson Press, Hudson, N. Y., May 31, 1935, p. 72.

    More to follow.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
    AcesKings, Chris B, ldhair and 6 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. GenX Enthusiast

    GenX Enthusiast Forensic grammatician

    Ah, darn, now I want one, too.

    My high school teams were the Tappan Zee Flying Dutchmen... that there's my neck of the woods.
    leeg and Stevearino like this.
  4. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

  5. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated

    Neat coin. Thanks for positing.

    I had to look it up:
    et decus et pretium recti -> "both the ornament and the reward of virtue"

    One nit-pick: the ship is sailing right, not left.

    leeg likes this.
  6. GenX Enthusiast

    GenX Enthusiast Forensic grammatician

    It was windy, we were tacking... and a bit drunk on Meade.
    CHARLES ROSENBAUM and LakeEffect like this.
  7. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Two good points. I'll add the English definition and Chester Beach had the ship sailing homeward bound. (The Numismatist, Description of Hudson Half Dollar, February, 1936, p. 109.)

    Thanks! :)
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  8. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball Cannot Re-Member

    I think you both had too much wine. It looks to me like they are sailing to port.:hungover:

    "Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine...……"

  9. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated

    Oh, ok. Mead (or port) may also explain the sightings of Neptune, mermaids, and whales 60 miles from the ocean up the Hudson river. :);)
    green18, GenX Enthusiast and cpm9ball like this.
  10. onecenter

    onecenter Member

    I always wanted to purchase one of these coins, but never have. They have been quite expensive for many, many years. The coin has a special place nonetheless, since it was where I was born way back when.
    leeg likes this.
  11. brandon spiegel

    brandon spiegel Brandon Spiegel

    Dang thats a nice coin!
    leeg likes this.
  12. frankjg

    frankjg Well-Known Member

    That’s awesome. Hudson is 30min north of me.

    I’m not a commemorative collector but I wouldn’t pass one of those up just due to proximity.

    The ship is cool too.
    leeg likes this.
  13. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated

    I love this site, so much history presented here. Inspires me to learn more.

    Hudson, NY is named after Henry Hudson, the English Explorer who searched for a passage to Asia with the backing of the Dutch East India Trading Company.

    Hudson sailed three times; his second voyage was aboard the Dutch built Halve Maen (Half Moon*) in 1609. While he did not find a passage to Asia, he did find the Hudson River. He navigated the river as far as present-day Albany, NY before determining the river was not a passage west and retracing his route.

    @leeg reports that the 1935 commemorative designer shows the ship 'heading home'. The right-facing image would be consistent with a ship sailing eastward from the New World toward Europe; first to England then home to Amsterdam.

    *(Likely explaining the moon in the reverse design)
    leeg likes this.
  14. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I am not a fan of this coin. At the time, the New York State Congressional delegation had a lot of clout. They got an inordinate number of commemorative coin bills passed that should have been no more than privately issued town medals. This was one of them.

    To top it off, the distribution of these coins was very unfair. Collectors ordered them, but their orders were rejected, and coins “went out the back door” to speculators. At a time when commemorative coins were hot, collectors had to pay through the nose to keep their sets current.

    Abuses like this and World War II brought an end to the commemorative program until 1946. The Iowa half dollars were fairly distributed, but the dishonesty began again with the Booker T. Washington and Washington-Carver half dollars. That ended the commemorative program until 1982 with Washington coins.
    ksparrow and leeg like this.
  15. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    Know the area well. Growing up in Pittsfield mass the Hudson valley was close by. I have quite a few customers in Hudson ny too
    leeg likes this.
  16. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    leave me alone let me go home go home and do it all over
    Good song though it gets stuck in your head
  17. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Nothing, I say, nothing, was more egregious than the '38 issues.........

    That said, (and I love my Bookers and Carvers) I'll try to post my Hudson on the morrow.
    leeg likes this.
  18. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Didn't Max Meil and one other notable fellow conspire to buy up the whole issue of the Hudson Commem?
  19. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    Bowers wrote that Julius Guttag of Guttag Brothers was believed to have obtained 7500 coins at 95 cents each.
  20. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball Cannot Re-Member

    I know that Max Mehl bought all of the remaining issues of one of the Classic Commems, but I can't remember which one. From what I heard, it wasn't a conspiracy, though. They didn't sell and were going back to the melting pot if he didn't buy them. If you know how to get in touch with Mark Feld, you might ask him. He's related to Mehl.

    green18 likes this.
  21. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    The saga continues:

    “To the Acting Director of the Mint Mary O’Reilly from the Vice President of the First National Bank of Hudson John Evans on June 12, 1935, regarding delivery of the Hudson, New York, Sesquicentennial Half Dollar.

    The Mayor of the City of Hudson, Hon. Frank W. Wise, has informed me that he authorized you to send the coins being minted in commemoration of the founding of the City of Hudson, N.Y., to this bank. It is the desire of the Mayor that 6,000 be minted at this time and that 4,000 be minted at a later date if the demand warrants it. We hereby authorize you to deliver these coins to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and enclose herewith copy of our letter to them authorizing payment of the face value and minting charges. If anything is necessary will you kindly communicate with me?”4

    4The Authoritative Reference on Commemorative Coins 1892-1954. Kevin Flynn, Published by Kyle Vick, 2008, p. 282-283.

    “. . . Beach made a number of preliminary drawings which are shown on the following plate. Working around an embossed Hudson seal at the top left, he sketched his layout for the reverse. The seal itself is scarcely visible in reproduction, but the legends are easily discerned. Below this, the artist prepared a tentative obverse, featuring Hudson’s portrait. To the right, he added two detailed renderings, on a substitute obverse showing the explorer’s flagship, the ‘Half Moon.’ Beach showed his drawings to Wise on May 13, and the following day the Mayor confirmed arrangements:

    My dear Mr. Beach: This is to confirm our verbal agreement of yesterday afternoon at your studio whereby you consented to sculpture the design for the City of Hudson commemorative half dollar. The cost of the design to aggregate a sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000).

    It is my understanding that you will also assist us in presenting this design to the proper authorities for immediate approval. I greatly appreciate your offer of assistance in having the design approved as I stated to you the time limit is a vital factor to my sesquicentennial committee.

    I have also discussed with my executive committee your recommendation as to the head or bust of Henry Hudson. We are perfectly willing to accept your advice on this matter and revert to our original idea of placing the Half moon on the side of the coin in place of the dead as intended.

    I will stop in your studio some time Monday next to discuss the coin design with you. Very truly yours.

    Working with unusual dispatch, Beach completed his models in little over a week’s time. The designs closely follow his final sketches although the word ‘Hudson’ has replaced ‘Half Moon,’ and an actual crescent moon now appears to the left of the ship. To expedite the issue, the Medallic Art Company of New York was engaged to make hubs.

    Dear Mr. Weil: I had heard that there was to be a special commemorative half dollar for Hudson County but did not know what sculptor was making the models, or when they were to be issued. I have not seen the act of Congress authorizing this piece and so do not know just how it may be worked. Ordinarily, the act designates that the design is subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, as well as the approval of the Commission of Fine Arts, which has no doubt already been obtained for this coin.

    I am well acquainted with the work of Mr. Beach as he has executed several coins before, and has had a great deal of experience with this type of work. Also, I recall that the dies made from his models for coins before were more than usually successful when it came to striking coins from them. As you know, with certain issues we have run into considerable difficulty in producing good sharp coins, because the sculptor was not familiar with the very rigid requirements of modern coinage processes. I have no apprehension on this score with Mr. Beach’s models. Yet the requirements of the act of Congress cannot be ignored as it would only cause serious delay later on.

    A good margin in height of border is advisable, as a coin has a tendency to spring after release from the collar, throwing some part of the design above the border, although the design is below the border in the die. I have seen this happen a number of times where there was not sufficient allowance provided in the die.

    If you mean by polished field on the coin, the type of the old style U. S. coins or that of the present British coins and those of several other foreign countries, then this polish must be obtained by what we call ‘basining’ on a zinc curved plate, which revolves rapidly. We do this right along for certain foreign coinages. If the field is simply to be polished by hand on the hardened die, that is quite another matter. The former process gives a much more brilliant finish than could possibly be obtained by the latter method.

    But to produce satisfactory dies for the basining process would require considerable adjustments in relief by taking the work back and forth between hub and die, because the basin is a severely accurate curve, graduated from a radius as low as 13” to 90”. For this we always lower the field of the hubs considerably below the design and then this excess is taken off the die partly before it is hardened, and the final amount after hardening, when the brilliant finish is obtained by various powders.

    I would advise against depending upon one pair of dies, although the coinage is small. A die can be damaged too easily in the experimental work necessary in determining the size to cut the planchet and the shape and depth of milling. Before we start coining, we find it necessary with a new design to cut five or six planchets all with slightly different diameters, and milled as nearly as we can guess from the character of the design. These are then tried-out on the coining press. Often we have to cut a number of additional planchets changing the diameters until we get one that makes a perfect piece. Therefore, extra dies for this purpose are always necessary. One or two 1/1000ths. Of an inch in diameter of a planchet can make the difference between success and failure in the coining of a piece. All these problems must be solved before the ingots can be rolled, because they determine the thickness to which the ingot is to be rolled. The weight of the coin has to be held rigidly within a narrow limit.

    I will give a report on the models just as soon as they are received, and will co-operate in any way that I can to expedite matters. Very sincerely yours.

    Writing to Moore on the 27th, Beach enthusiastically reported Lawrie’s approval of the models:

    Dear Mr. Moore: I enclose a photo for your interest and the Commission of Fine Arts’ records of the Hudson Half Dollar models.

    Mr. Lawrie came in Friday and kindly left me a not, approved, ‘heartily.’

    I hope they will be a little more interesting than the others I have done, as the seal of Hudson is rather amusing and the Half-moon that I persuaded them to use instead of a non existing portrait of Hudson will make a rich obverse besides being more in keeping with the reverse (Hudson it seems was a whaling port although on the Hudson River).

    I quote for your record not boastfully as it is mere technique-from the head engraver John Sinnock to Medallic Art Co. here who will cut the dies. We are however sending his a set of plaster models to look over to be sure. quote-‘The dies made from Mr. Beach’s models for coins before were more than usually successful when it came to striking coins from them.’

    We are also enclosing to the mint one of these photo(s) for them to secure the approval of the Secty of the Treasury after they look over the models. I thought this the best way, but maybe you would like to send him word also. I do not know the exact method, as you will recall all the other orders came through the Fine Arts Commission and I did not have much to do about O.K.’s. All is in a hurry. I have modeled these in no less than two weeks. Sincerely yours.

    Relying on Lawrie’s verdict, the Commission approved the models the following day. A week later they were authorized for coinage.”5

    5 An Illustrated History of Commemorative Coinage, Don Taxay ARCO Press, New York City, 1967, p. 161, 162, 165-166.



    First set of sketches of the Hudson half dollar by Chester Beach. Taxay p. 163.

    Still more to come.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page