Classic Coins - Alabama
Centennial Half Dollar
The Alabama Centennial Half Dollar Coin commemorated the anniversary of Alabama's entrance into the Union of the
Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments,
Interestingly, Alabama's 100th anniversary occurred on December 14, 1919.
The 66th Congress did not approve minting the commemorative coin until 1920 with the act becoming law on
May 10, 1920.
When approved, this Act became noted as Public Law 66-200.
Furthermore, the US Mint did not produce the coins until 1921.
The law noted there would be 100,000 silver 50-cent pieces "to be of the standard troy weight, composition,
diameter, device and design, as shall be fixed by the Director of the Mint, with the approval of the Secretary of
the Treasury, and said 50-cent pieces shall be legal tender in any payment to the amount of their face value."
The law concluded the authorization with the Proviso: "That the Government shall not be subject to the expense
of making the necessary dies and other preparations for this coinage."
Characteristics - Alabama
Centennial Half Dollar
Metal Composition: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Diameter - millimeters: 30.6
Diameter - inches: 1.2
Weight - grams: 12.5
Weight - troy ounce: 0.401884332
Silver content weight - troy ounce: 0.3617
Mint Locations: Philadelphia
Years Minted: 1921
The coin's silver content alone makes it more valuable than its face value of $0.50.
But, the coin's age, its condition and its desirability make it even more valuable as a collectible.
The coin's estimated value ranges from $144 (low grade - XF) to $2800 (high grade - MS-66).
Extraordinary characteristics on the Alabama Centennial Half Dollar can command a price outside the
estimated value range.
Obverse - Alabama Centennial Half
The design on the front or obverse of the coin contains the first ever portrait of a living person.
The left portrait shows William Wyatt Bibb, the first governor of Alabama.
The right portrait presents T.E. Kilby, the governor of Alabama during their centennial celebration.
The 22 stars symbolize Alabama becoming the 22nd state to join the Union.
The coinage inscriptions include United States of America, Half Dollar, In God We Trust, and Bibb 1921
And, take a look, the "U" in United is rounded, but the "U" in Trust uses the pointed "V" shape. Per wikipedia,
in the Late Middle ages, the pointed "V" shape was used at the beginning of words and the rounded "U" shape in the
middle - just the opposite of the usage here.
Artist: Laura Gardin Fraser
Reverse - Alabama Centennial Half
The image on the reverse of the coin is an adaptation of the State Seal of Alabama at the time of the centennial
The eagle stands on a shield of the United States with arrows under his feet. He holds a ribbon in his beak
containing the words "Here We Rest."
The coinage inscriptions say, State of Alabama and 1819 Centennial 1919.
On the right, the small initials LGF for the artist can be seen.
Artist: Laura Gardin Fraser
Commentary - Alabama Centennial Half
Though the stated mintage was 100,000, records show roughly 65,000 were distributed. The lower number could be
due to the coins not being available during the centennial celebration year.
The coin above contains the 2X2 in the field. This design recognized the 22nd state with the larger "X"
corresponding to the St. Andrew's cross, which is part of the Alabama state flag. (Click to learn more about the state's flag - opens in a new window.)
Not quite half of the 65,000 coins included the 2X2 in the obverse design.
The 2X2 versions are valued slightly higher than the Alabama Centennial coins without the design element.
The coin pictured above resides in an NGC holder and is graded as an MS-65. (NGC, Numismatic Guaranty
Corporation, provides coin grading and certification services.)
Versions of the coin also exist in higher grades such as an MS-66 grade.
Governor Bibb first became the governor of the Alabama Territory in 1817. When Alabama became a state in 1819,
Governor Bibb served as the state's first governor from 1819 to the summer of 1820 when he died of illness.
The reverse of the Alabama Centennial half dollar coin is based on the Great Seal of Alabama at the time of the centennial celebration (opens in new window).
This seal was used for 71 years, but it was not the initial seal, nor is it the seal of Alabama today.
As territory governor, Bibb was granted approval to select a great seal. He chose one showing a map of the
territory with its rivers. The state adopted that seal and used it for 50 years until the state legislators
chose the seal with the eagle.
In 1939, the legislators unanimously approved going back to the original Great Seal of Alabama (opens in new window), which is still in use today.
Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Alabama Centennial for a variety of
useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.