A commemorative coin was approved to mark the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Swedes in Delaware. Known as the Delaware Tercentenary Half Dollar, this issue is associated with a confusing array of dates. The date on the obverse is 1936, the coins were struck in 1937, and the anniversary date on the reverse is 1938.
The designs for the coin were selected through a competition judged by United States Mint Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock and sculptor Robert Tait MacKenzie. The winning entry was submitted by Carl L. Schmitz.
The obverse of the Delaware Half Dollar features an image of the Old Swedes Church, which was dedicated in 1699. The inscriptions read “United States of America”, “Half Dollar”, “In God We Trust”, and “1936”. The reverse depicts the ship Kalmar Nyckel, which brought Swedish settlers to the country. The inscriptions include “Delaware Tercentenary”, “E Pluribus Unum”, “Liberty”, “1638”, and “1938”. Due to the arrangement of the inscriptions there was some confusion about which side of the coin was the obverse and which was the reverse. Official mint records indicate the side bearing the image of the Old Swedes Church as the obverse.
The 1936 Delaware Half Dollars were distributed by the Delaware Swedish Tercentenary Commission for $1.75 each. A minimum production of 25,000 pieces was specified under the authorizing legislation. This entire number was struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Eventually, 4,022 unsold pieces were returned to the mint for melting.
Delaware Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Designer: Carl L. Schmitz
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 74-91
Maximum Authorized Mintage: none (minimum 25,000)
Delaware Half Dollar Mintage