The Hudson Sesquicentennial Half Dollar was issued to celebrate the 150th anniversary of a small community in New York, named for the famous explorer Henry Hudson. The issue became another source of controversy after seemingly few of the coins were offered for sale directly to the public.
Hudson, New York had just 14,000 residents at the time, so it seemed unusual to issue a commemorative coin for the anniversary of its founding. Coins were generally issued for occasions of national importance, but this classification became increasingly broad within this era. A small mintage of just 10,000 pieces was indicated within the authorizing legislation.
The designs for the coin were prepared by Chester Beach, who earlier had designed the 1923 Monroe Half Dollar and 1935 Lexington-Concord Half Dollar. His design for the present coin featured an image recalling the seal of the city of Hudson on the obverse. The god Neptune sits backwards on a whale, while holding his trident. A mermaid appears to the left, blowing a conch shell. A banner above the image reads “Et Decus Et Pretium Recti” (Both the Honor and Reward of the Righteous), with additional inscriptions “City of Hudson NY”, “E Pluribus Unum” and the anniversary dates “1785-1935”.
The reverse design featured an image of Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon. A somewhat cartoonish crescent moon appears to the left, implying the name of the ship. Inscriptions read “United States of America”, “In God We Trust”, “Hudson”, and “Half Dollar”.
Distribution of the Hudson Half Dollars was supposed to take place through the Hudson Sesquicentennial Committee via the First National Bank and Trust of Hudson at an issue price of $1 per coin. Only a few days after the start of sales, a complete sell out of the 10,000 mintage was announced. It is said that two coin dealers had purchased nearly the entire amount in a bulk transaction. These coins were soon offered by the dealers at inflated prices, since they controlled the majority of the supply.
For present day collectors, the 1935 Hudson Sesquicentennial Half Dollar remains one of the challenging issues within a complete set of early commemorative coins. The mintage is amongst the lowest for a half dollar, and the coins are prone to weak strikes at the center and excessive contact marks from handling. The selection of a choice specimen for a set takes some searching and patience.
Hudson Sesquicentennial Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Designer: Chester Beach
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 74-48
Maximum Authorized Mintage: 10,000
Hudson Sesquicentennial Half Dollar Mintages