The 1936 Norfolk Bicentennial Half Dollar was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the establishment of Norfolk, Virginia as a borough. Both the obverse and reverse of the coins carry incredibly voluminous number of inscriptions, which dominate the design.
At the center of the obverse is a reproduction of the Norfolk City Seal, which carries a ship plow and stocks of grain. Inscriptions are placed in three concentric circles surrounding this image. The inscriptions read “Borough of Norfolk Bicentennial”, “1936”, “City of Norfolk Virginia”, “Town 1682”, “Borough 1736”, “City 1845”, “Et Terra Et Mare Divitiae Tuae” (Both by Land and by Sea Thy Riches Are), and “Crescas” (Thou Shalt Grow).
The reverse carries an image of the Royal Mace of Norfolk, which was presented by Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie in 1753. The date “1636” appears at center with two floral sprays. As with the obverse, many inscriptions surround, reading “United States of America”, “Half Dollar”, “Norfolk Virginia Land Grant”, “In God We Trust”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and “Liberty”. Designs for the coin were prepared by William Marks Simpson and Marjorie Emory Simpson.
Under the authorizing legislation, the Norfolk Half Dollars had a maximum mintage of 25,000 pieces. By the time the coins were issued, the outpouring of commemorative coin issues had taken its toll on the collector market and sales went slowly. The coins were distributed by the Norfolk Advertising Board at a cost of $1.50 each locally or $1.65 by mail. Many pieces were reportedly sold at discounted prices to dealers in bulk quantities. Eventually, unsold coins were returned to the mint for melting, resulting in a net distribution of 16,936.
The 1936 Norfolk Half Dollar is readily encountered in high grades. The many inscriptions on both sides of the coin, protected the devices and fields from wear and contact marks. The highest points of the design are the sails of the ship on the obverse and the mace on the reverse.
Norfolk Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Designer: William Marks Simpson, Marjorie Emory Simpson
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 74-164
Maximum Authorized Mintage: 25,000
Norfolk Half Dollar Mintage