The 1936 Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar was issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the pivotal battle of the American Civil War. The issue has become one of the more popular amongst the early commemorative coins.
The obverse depicts Union and Confederate soldiers in profile, with inscriptions “United States of America”, “Blue and Gray Reunion”, “Liberty”, and “E Pluribus Unum”. On the reverse are Union and Confederate shields separated by a fasces, a bundle of sticks bound together around a double sided axe, with sprays of oak and laurel to each side. The inscriptions read “75th Anniversary”, “1863″, “Battle of Gettysburg”, “1938″, “In God We Trust”, “1936″, and “Half Dollar”.
Designed by Frank Vittor, the design for the coin is sometimes described as medallic in appearance. This effect is created by the outer ring containing inscriptions and the exaggerated basining of the fields.
Similar to the Delaware Half Dollar, the Gettysburg Half Dollar is associated with a somewhat confusing array of dates. The coins are issued to celebrate an anniversary which occurs in 1938, however they were issued in 1937, and dated 1936.
The maximum authorized mintage for the Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar was 50,000 pieces to be struck at a single mint. The entire number was struck at the Philadelphia Mint and distributed by the Pennsylvania State Commission at a price of $1.65 per coin. In 1938, an unsold quantity of coins was turned over to the American Legion Department of Pennsylvania, who sold the coins for $2.65 each. Eventually, an unsold quantity of 23,100 pieces was returned to the mint for melting.
This issue carries a premium due to its popularity, but it generally readily available. Pieces can be found in gem grades, although many coins will shows contact marks on the highest points of the design, the soldier’s faces on the obverse and the shields on the reverse. With some patience, a high grade example with minimal distracting marks can be located.
Gettysburg Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Designer: Frank Vittor
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 74-91
Maximum Authorized Mintage: 50,000
Gettysburg Half Dollar Mintage