Featured 1938 New Rochelle, NY Half Dollar

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by leeg, May 30, 2020.

  1. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    There's been a little loosing of restrictions here in Virginia. Not sure that's a good thing. Too many people not wearing masks. I have some medical concerns that will affect me if I catch the virus.

    A very interesting history lesson here about the New Rochelle half dollar. That's what I think anyhoo...

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    In my Numismatic Library.

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    25,015 pieces coined at the Philadelphia Mint with 13 pieces reserved for annual assay and 9,749 melted. Initial design given to Lorillard Wise who then resigned his commission. Miss Gertrude K. Lathrop of Albany, N.Y., finished the design. Distributed by the New Rochelle Commemorative Coin Committee, Mr. Pitt M. Skipton, chairman. Image courtesy of Stacks Bowers Galleries, Guttag Family Collection Part I, 2011 Chicago ANA Coin Auction.

    Approved by Congress on May 5, 1936, and issued in commemoration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding and settlement of the city of New Rochelle, New York.


    Obverse: Lord John Pell 1 standing holding fatted calf by a rope; around upper border, * SETTLED • 1688 • INCORPORATED • 1899 * (IN of INCORPORATED touches John Pell’s hat), around lower border NEW • ROCHELLE • NEW • YORK ; in lower right field, opposite Y, in YORK, the designer’s initials, in relief: GKL.

    The fleur-de-lis 2 as on the seal of the city; below, 1938; around outer border, at top, UNITED • STATES • OF • AMERICA; around lower border, HALF • DOLLAR; in inner circle, E • PLURIBUS • UNUM • LIBERTY • IN • GOD • WE • TRUST.

    25,013 pieces coined at the Philadelphia Mint. Lorillard Wise was initially commissioned to do the models for this coin. His models were approved then subsequently disapproved by the Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. Miss Gertrude K. Lathrop was then commissioned to design and submit models for the coin which were approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and the Secretary of the Treasury. The coins were distributed by the New Rochelle Commemorative Coin Committee, Mr. Pitt M. Skipton, chairman.

    One Fatt Calfe, poem ‘The New Rochelle Half Dollar,’ p. 10.

    The fleur-de-lis (or fleur-de-lys; plural: fleurs-de-lis; French pronunciation: [flœʁ də li] is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. The English translation of "fleur-de-lis" (sometimes spelled ‘fleur-de-lys’) is ‘flower of the lily.’ This symbol, depicting a stylized lily or lotus flower, has many meanings. Traditionally, it has been used to represent French royalty, and in that sense it is said to signify perfection, light, and life. Legend has it that an angel presented Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks, with a golden lily as a symbol of his purification upon his conversion to Christianity. Others claim that Clovis adopted the symbol when water lilies showed him how to safely cross a river and thus succeed in battle.

    “Louis K. Hyde, president of the Fleetwood Bank of Mount Vernon, was elected president, and William S. Dewey, of 38 South Fifteenth Avenue, vice-president at the regular meeting of the Westchester County Coin Club last night at the New Rochelle Y. M. C. A.

    Arthur W. Dean, of 445 Gramatan Avenue, was elected a member of the board of governors. Other officers are William Lighte, Scarsdale, treasurer; J. H. White, Dobbs Ferry, secretary; Kenneth Marsden, New Rochelle, librarian; Elmer E. Carpenter, Scarsdale; Berthold Ehrenberg, Yonkers; Julius Guttag, New Rochelle, new members of the board of governors.

    Pitt M. Skipton, New Rochelle, advised that Congressman Charles Millard had been informed of the proposition to strike off a commemorative half dollar for the 250th anniversary of the founding of New Rochelle which occurs in 1938. A New Rochelle bank has tentatively agreed to finance the issue which, under present plans, calls for 20,000 half dollars to be sold to collectors and the general public at $2 each. Surplus over face value of the coins will be used to finance the celebration.

    . . . Philip Pippner, of South Norwalk, was admitted to membership, bringing the total to 46 with two applications ready for action at the January meeting.”3

    3 The Daily Argus, Mount Vernon, N. Y., December 18, 1935. Fleetwood Banker Heads County’s Numismatists. Louis K. Hyde Elected by Coin Club–Mount Vernon Man Made Vice-President, Another is Director–New Rochelle Half-Dollar Discussed. Courtesy Jonathan Lerner, President, Westchester County Coin Club and owner of Scarsdale Coins in Scarsdale, NY.

    Stay tuned, much more to follow.
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  3. thomas mozzillo

    thomas mozzillo Well-Known Member

    Do you possibly have an image of the design by Lorillard Wise?
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  4. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    CFA, New Rochelle Lorrilard Wise Plaster Combo.png

    Courtesy of the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA).
  5. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt example. Part of a collection of coins, tokens, paper money, etc., received from President Roosevelt on May 29, 1941. Courtesy bequest of Franklin D. Roosevelt, FDR Library MO 1941.40.4.16.


    Image of colored lithographed map of New Rochelle and surrounding communities in Westchester County, New York dated 1900. Courtesy David Rumsey historical map collection.
  6. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Here is the piece in my collection which is NGC graded MS-64.

    New Rochelle Half.jpg

    The man depicted on the obverse is John Pell who owned the land upon which the town is located. When he sold the land, one of the provisions was that he would be provided with a fat calf each year on June 24 so long as he requested it.
  7. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    That is a nice example John. So HARD to find with a reverse that has any definition of the line in the middle of the flower. Your's does.
    johnmilton likes this.
  8. I don't have a picture of the rev of mine handy but here is the obv :) Newrochelle.jpg 60851698493__BE4630DD-BBBA-4905-BAD2-6E93F31395CD.jpg
  9. erscolo

    erscolo Member

    Some of my ancestors settled in Neu Rochelle in the late 1600s, so I have an affinity for this coin among other things. Thank you for your article, nicely done. Now I just need to get me one of these coins.
  10. Worn Out

    Worn Out Well-Known Member

    Great write-up Lee! I like design from Lorillard Wise and own a set of the original plasters.

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    One-Coin Distribution Holder
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    Five-Coin Distribution Holder

    PCGS MS66
    Promotional brochure
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  11. Worn Out

    Worn Out Well-Known Member

  12. DeanC12

    DeanC12 New Member

    Thanks for this post. Having lived my entire life in New Rochelle, this one is definitely on my want list.
  13. thomas mozzillo

    thomas mozzillo Well-Known Member

  14. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    All nice stuff so far!! Thanks for posting.



    Both courtesy FDR Library; bequest of the Estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt, from the President’s personal file.

    “Despite the objection of President Roosevelt to further issues of commemorative coins, and the possibility that he may veto bills providing for them that reach him, Congress had proceeded to consider bills authorizing several new issues and changes in two other issues, the maximum number of which have not been coined.

    This issue was unique in that it was the first early commemorative coin to be asked for by an organization of coin collectors, The Westchester County Coin Club.

    In early January of 1936 Senator Copeland, of New York, introduced a bill providing for the coinage of a half dollar in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of New Rochelle, N. Y.

    Senator Copeland’s bill had several unique, problematic, aspects to it:

    Total coinage numbers were not listed. Unlimited coinage numbers and years to mint them?

    Shall be coined ‘at the mints’ which meant ‘D’ and ‘S’ varieties were allowed. Not in favor by collectors at the time.

    The coins were to be issued to the Westchester Coin Club of New Rochelle, NY. There was no such coin club in existence at that time. It should have stated Westchester ‘County’ Coin Club.

    Nowhere in the bill was it stated to what use the profit from the sale of the coins were to be used.

    Was it not just possible that every coin club in the country would search the history of its City or State to find some event worthy of being commemorated? Would not the Westchester County Coin Club, with its coffers swollen to enormous size, be the envy of every other coin club?

    On January 22, 1936 a Bill originating in the House of Representatives was introduced which removed all the unique features of the New Rochelle half dollar bill referred to above. In most respects the bill was similar to the one previously introduced in the Senate, but it provided for an issue of 20,000 half dollars, which are to be issued ‘only upon the request of the committee, person or persons duly authorized by the Mayor of the City of New Rochelle, N. Y.,’ and ‘all proceeds shall be used in furtherance of the commemoration of the founding of the City of New Rochelle, N. Y.’

    On February 18th a report from the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures reported favorably on the bill for the New Rochelle half dollar.

    On March 16th the Bill authorizing the half dollar for New Rochelle, N.Y., having been entirely rewritten, passed the House. It provided that ‘there shall be coined at a mint of the United States to be designated by the Director of the Mint not to exceed 25,000 silver 50-cent pieces.’ It also provided that ‘no such coins shall be issued after the expiration of one year after the date of enactment of this act.’ As written it also passed the Senate.

    The New Rochelle half dollar also has a special place in the series as the Act authorizing the issue specified that the date 1938 (250th anniversary) should appear on the coin regardless of the year in which coined. It was authorized in 1936, minted in 1937, and carries the date 1938.
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  15. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Julius Guttag in his office.png

    On May 11th Julius Guttag, ANA No. 856, writes:

    There has been much comment and rumors regarding the New Rochelle half dollar. Being particularly interested in this coin as the original sponsor, and as there has been a great deal of criticism and a great many stories which are not true, I want to make it distinctly understood that this half dollar will be distributed by a committee appointed by the Mayor.

    The distributors of this coin will be the First National Bank of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, N.Y.

    As far as I am concerned, I will do everything in my power to see that each and every collector will receive one or two of these pieces. The price has been set at $2, plus postage, and there are 25,000 coins to be issued.

    I trust that all collectors who are interested in commemorative half dollars will be satisfied with the way the New Rochelle half dollar will be distributed.”4

    4 The Numismatist, The Distribution of the New Rochelle Coin, June, 1936, p. 447.


    Courtesy of One Fatt Calfe, being an account of the New Rochelle half-dollar and of the celebration marking the 250th anniversary of the founding and settlement of the City of New Rochelle, N.Y. Amy C. Skipton, published by the New Rochelle Commemorative Coin Committee, 1939. A book in my Numismatic Library.

    “Mr. Pitt M. Skipton writes:

    ‘Due to necessary changes and alterations in the design, the minting of the New Rochelle half dollar has been somewhat delayed. However, we expect delivery in April next, and all accepted paid orders will then be forwarded promptly to purchasers. There is to be but one issue, one design, one date, i.e., 1938.

    To date we have done no advertising nor solicited any orders.”5

    5 The Numismatist, The New Rochelle Half Dollar, March, 1937, p. 208.
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  16. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    I believe the New Rochelle half dollar was the first U.S. coin designed by a woman. I own only one classic silver commemorative ... and it's this one.

  17. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Laura Gardin Fraser designed the Alabama Centennial coins in 1921 and Grant Memorial coins in 1922. Brenda Putnam design the 1936 Cleveland Centennial Half Dollar, Constance Ortmeyer designed the 1936 Cincinnati Musical Center half dollar and William Marks Simpson and wife Marjorie Emory Simpson designed the 1936 Norfolk Land Grant/Bicentennial half dollar.
    calcol likes this.
  18. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    “Miss Gertrude K. Lathrop, of Albany, NY provided the following description for her design:

    'In 1938 New Rochelle will celebrate the 250th anniversary of its founding. It was settled in 1688 by French Huguenots from La Rochelle, France. One year later a tract of 6,000 acres, the land upon which New Rochelle now stands, was sold by John Pell to Jacob Leisler, who was for a short time Governor of New York. Leisler was commissioned by these French Huguenots to obtain the land. One of the conditions of the sale was that Jacob Leisler, his heirs and assigns, should give to John Pell his heirs and assigns Lords of the said Mannor of Pelham. . . as an Acknowledgement to the said Manor one fatte calfe on every fouer and twentyth day of June Yearly and Every years forever (if demanded).’

    The city was incorporated in 1899.

    On the obverse of the coin is shown a protesting calf being delivered in payment of this debt. The model for the calf was found on the Kenwood farm of Parker Corning, Representative in Congress last year.

    The design for the reverse shows a modern interpretation of the old conventionalized form of fleur-de-lis which has been a symbol of France since 1180. It appears on the shield of La Rochelle, from which the settlers came, and also on the shield of the city of New Rochelle.

    The commission to make the designs for the coin was given after the New Rochelle Commemorative Coin Committee, of which Pitt M. Skipton is chairman, had seen the Albany coins. The models were approved February 25th by the Secretary of the Treasury, and they are now at the Mint in Philadelphia.’”6

    6. The Numismatist, New Rochelle Commemorative Half Dollar, April, 1937, p. 305.
  19. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Ms. Fraser also designed a part of the Oregon Trail half dollar which began in 1926.
  20. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    “Pitt M. Skipton writes:

    ‘Referring to the New Rochelle half dollar, it may interest you and your readers to learn that our 250th anniversary celebration, June 10 to 19 last, was a huge success and that the profits derived from the sale of the coin fully financed the event.

    Eight thousand pieces of this coin were returned to the Mint last May, leaving a balance of 17,000 outstanding. A small lot is still available at the distribution price. I might add that this issue has been widely and successfully distributed and that no large lot is in anyone’s hands. One prominent dealer bought 100 coins, and ten orders for 10 coins each went to the same city, and I presume they found their way to the same dealer. This was our largest order. We appreciate and thank you for the cooperation you have given us in our distributions.”8

    8. The Numismatist, Commemorative Coins Melted, August 1938, p. 668.


    Invites president to New Rochelle for 250th Anniversary. Washington, D. C., May 16. Rep. Ralph Gambel of New York, (left) and Walter G. O. Otto, former mayor, today invited President Roosevelt to attend the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of New Rochelle, N.Y. by the Hugenots. The celebration is planned for June 12-18. Courtesy Library of Congress.

    The end.
  21. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder

    "Pitt Skipton." Great name, sounds like a comic book character.
    New Rochelle obv.jpg New Rochelle rev.jpg
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