The last design released for the early commemorative coins was the George Washington Carver Half Dollar. The authorizing legislation passed in 1951 called for the melting of all unsold Booker T. Washington Half Dollars and the recoinage into coins bearing conjoined profile portraits of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington.
Part of the impetus for the approval of the final commemorative coin program seems to have been the intended purpose to “oppose the spread of Communism among Negroes in the interest of national defense.” Models for the design were prepared by Isaac Scott Hathaway, but both were initially rejected. The obverse featured a three quarter profile portrait of Booker T. Washington behind the profile portrait of George Washington Carver. The reverse featured the American Legion seal with inscriptions including “United Against the Spread of Communism”.
The revised and later approved models featured both portraits in profile, surrounded by lengthy inscriptions reading “United States of America”, “In God We Trust”, “E Pluribus Unum”, “George W. Carver”, “Liberty”, “Booker T. Washington”, “Half Dollar”, and the date. On the reverse was a simple map of the United States of America, curiously with Delaware omitted. The inscriptions read “Freedom and Opportunity for All” and “Americanism”. After some of the incredibly ornate designs for early commemoratives, many saw this reverse design as a low point.
Coins were issued in three coin sets containing one of each mint mark for each year of issue. Prices were $9 or $10 per set, and later $12 per set for the 1954 coins. In 1952, there was some attempt to issue the coins broadly through banks, but many were eventually distributed at or near face value. By the end of the program, more than one million coins would be distributed.
For nearly three decades, no additional commemorative coins were approved within the United States. Any proposals were met by the Treasury Department with the long list of complaints that had arisen due to past abuses. Thus ended the era of early commemorative coins.
George Washington Carver Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Designer: Isaac Scott Hathaway
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 82-151
Maximum Authorized Mintage: 3,415,631 (remaining quantity from Public Law 79-610)
George Washington Carver Half Dollar Mintage