Classic Coins - Booker T.
Washington Memorial Half Dollar
The US Mint produced the Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar Classic Commemorative Coin with coinage
dates of 1946 through 1951 to recognize the life and contributions of Booker T. Washington.
Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments, fun
On August 7, 1946, the second session of the 79th Congress approved an act which became Public Law 79-610 that
authorized "the coinage of 50-cent pieces to commemorate the life and perpetuate the ideals and teachings of Booker
The law began, "That to commemorate the life and perpetuate the ideals and teachings of Booker T. Washington, a
great American, there shall be coined by the Director of the Mint not to exceed five million silver 50-cent pieces
of standard size, weight, and fineness and of a special appropriate design to be fixed by the Director of the Mint,
with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury; but the United States shall not be subject to the expense of
making the models for master dies or other preparations for this coinage.
"SEC. 2. The coins herein authorized shall be issued at par, and only upon the request of the Booker T.
Washington Birthplace Memorial established at his birthplace in Franklin County, Virginia.
"SEC 3. Such coins may be disposed of at par or at a premium by banks or trust companies selected by the Booker
T . Washington Birthplace Memorial of Franklin County, Virginia, and all proceeds therefrom shall be used to
purchase, construct, and maintain suitable memorials to the memory of Booker T . Washington, deceased, as may be
decided upon by the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial of Virginia."
The law continues in Section 4 stating that all laws already in place applying to coinage shall also apply to
"SEC. 5. The coins authorized herein shall be issued in such numbers, and at such times as shall be requested by
the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial and upon payment to the United States of the face value of such coins:
Provided, That none of such coins shall be issued after the expiration of the five-year period immediately
following the enactment of this Act."
Characteristics - Booker T. Washington
Memorial 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, Denver, San Francisco
Years Minted: 1946-1951
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 $16 (low grade - XF) to $80 (high grade - MS-66).
Extraordinary characteristics on the Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar can command a price outside the
estimated value range.
Obverse - Booker T. Washington Memorial Half
The obverse or front of the coin shows a three-quarters portrait of Booker T. Washington with eyes looking
toward the future.
The coinage inscriptions say, United States of America, Booker T. Washington, Half Dollar, E Pluribus Unum and
the coinage year - 1948 in this case.
Artist: Isaac Scott Hathaway
Reverse - Booker T. Washington Memorial Half
The reverse or back of the coin features A log cabin in which Booker T. Washington was born and a modern
building representing the Hall of Fame.
The coinage inscriptions read Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial, Liberty, From Slave Cabin to Hall of
Fame, In God We Trust, and Franklin County Va.
Artist: Isaac Scott Hathaway
Commentary - Booker T. Washington Memorial Half
The stated mintage was "not to exceed five million silver 50-cent pieces."
Records show the three mints produced slightly more than 1.6 million of the Booker T. Washington Memorial half
In obeying the subsequent law for the Carver Washington Commemorative Half
Dollar, an unknown number of the silver half dollar coins were returned and melted for recoinage as the new
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 across a variety of the grades.
In February 1881, Alabama's Legislature established the Tuskegee Institute as a "normal school for the
education of colored teachers."
No tuition would be charged, but its graduates must teach for two years in Alabama.
The president of the Hampton Institute recommended Booker T. Washington for a position.
As a result, Booker T. Washington was chosen to lead the Tuskegee Institute.
Washington arrived in Alabama in June.
His leadership made the Tuskegee Institute one of the most famous and celebrated black colleges in the
With his many contributions, Booker T. Washington influenced the African-American community and its
His book, Up From Slavery, was published in 1901 and became a bestseller.
In it, Booker T. Washington highlighted the African American issues.
After the public attention, in September 1901, the Los Angeles Times reported, "Booker T. Washington
was at the White House for several hours this evening, in conference with President Theodore Roosevelt. Washington
came by invitation, as the President wished to consult with him."
The New York Times ran a letter to the editor from W.J. Morgan in November 1901.
Mr. Morgan, from New Jersey, described a recent visit to New York where he dined in the same hotel as Mr.
In addition to commenting on Mr. Washington's meal, which Mr. Morgan duplicated and enjoyed, of roast beef,
green corn and Bass ale, Mr. Morgan concluded his letter by saying, "I do not believe that many Northern gentlemen
would hesitate about dining in the same room or at the same table with Booker Tallaferro Washington, LL. D.—in
fact, many of them would consider it an honor."
Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Booker T. Washington Memorial for a
variety of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.