Classic Coins - Delaware
Tercentenary Half Dollar
The US Mint produced the Delaware Tercentenary Half Dollar Classic Commemorative Coin with a 1936
coinage date to recognize and celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Swedes landing in Delaware in the year
1638. The coin also includes the anniversary year of 1938.
Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments, fun
On May 15, 1936, the second session of the 74th Congress approved an act which became
Public Resolution 74-91 that authorized "the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the three-hundredth
anniversary of the landing of the Swedes in Delaware."
The law began, "That in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of the landing of the Swedes in
Delaware there shall be coined at a mint of the United States to be designated by the Director of the Mint not less
than twenty-five thousand silver 50-cent pieces of standard size, weight, and composition and of a special
appropriate single design, containing some recognized emblem of the State of Delaware, 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 necessary dies and other preparations for this coinage.
"SEC. 2. The coins herein authorized shall bear the date 1936, irrespective of the year in which they are minted
or issued, shall be legal tender in any payment to the amount of their face value, and shall be issued only upon
the request of the president of the Delaware Swedish Tercentenary Commission upon payment by him of the par value
of such coins, but not less than twenty-five thousand such coins shall be issued to him at any one time and no such
coins shall be issued after the expiration of one year after the date of enactment of this Act. Such coins may be
disposed of at par or at a premium by such commission, and the net proceeds shall be used by it in defraying the
expenses incidental and appropriate to the commemoration of such event."
The law continues in Section 3 stating that all laws already in place applying to coinage shall also apply to
Characteristics - Delaware Tercentenary
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: 1936 (Coinage year, actually produced in 1937)
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 $190 (low grade - XF) to $400 (high grade - MS-66).
Extraordinary characteristics on the Delaware Tercentenary Half Dollar can command a price outside the estimated
Obverse - Delaware Tercentenary Half
The obverse or front of the coin shows the Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, the oldest church still standing
today. This coin was authorized in 1936 and struck by the United States Mint in 1937 with the anniversary year,
1938, also on the coin.
The coinage inscriptions say, United States of America, Half Dollar, In God We Trust and 1936.
Artist: Carl L. Schmitz
Reverse - Delaware Tercentenary Half
The reverse or back of the coin features view of the ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, one of the Swedes' expedition
The coinage inscriptions read Delaware Tercentenary, E Pluribus Unum, Liberty and 1638-1938.
Artist: Carl L. Schmitz
Commentary - Delaware Tercentenary Half
The stated mintage was "not less than twenty-five thousand silver 50-cent pieces" and "coined at a mint."
Records show the Philadelphia Mint produced 20,993 of the Delaware Tercentenary half dollar coins, which is less
than the delivery number specified in SEC 2 of the law.
With many commemorative coins in the mid-1930s, perhaps there was not enough interest in the coin. Any extra
coins were returned and melted for recoinage.
The coin pictured above resides in an PCGS holder and is graded as an MS-65. (PCGS is Professional Coin Grading
Versions of the coin also exist across a variety of the grades.
The Delaware Swedish Tercentenary Commission, created by Delaware's Senate and House, came into existence on
March 20, 1935.
The legislation specified the duties of the Commission were to “prepare plans for a fitting celebration by the
State of Delaware on the occasion of the Three Hundredth Anniversary in 1938 of the founding of the first permanent
The Commission's primary concern was to encourage permissive federal legislation for the minting of
commemorative half dollars and to coordinate the designing of said coin.
From the Old Swedes Church records of October 1699:
"...on account of the necessity of the congregations engaging the well learned and proper person Swen
Colesberg, to serve as bell ringer, promising him for the year 2 shillings and 6 pence, and more as we are more
able to pay, but as he was by no means able to support himself on that pay we took him especially for a
schoolmaster, and agree to gather for him 18 or 20 children, and he is to keep school for a half year at Petter
Converting to dollars using today's British Pound to Dollar ratio, 2 shillings and 6 pence equals $0.19.
Taking into consideration CPI (Consumer Price Index, which is only readily available back to 1774) that would be
an annual salary of less than $50 in today's buying power.
That makes "...by no means able to support himself on that pay" an understatement.
The first settlers, Dutch, arrived in Delaware in 1631. Their settlement was found burned and no one alive in
In 1637, Christina, the Swedish child queen, granted a colonial charter.
In November, two ships sailed for the New World, the Kalmar Nyckel and Vogel Grip.
The Swedes landed in March 1638 and developed their first colony at "The Rocks" on the Christina River.
They named their fort and village Christinaham after their queen. Today, the area is part of Wilmington.
Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Delaware Tercentenary for a variety
of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.