Classic Coins - Norfolk VA
Bicentennial Half Dollar
Initially, Congress approved the production of a medal, but just over a year later, they approved the US
Mint to strike the Norfolk VA Bicentennial Half Dollar Classic Commemorative Coin. The
coin recognized and supported the city's celebration of the first land grant and the founding of the city
Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments, fun
The Medal Law...
On June 26, 1936, the second session of the 74th Congress approved an act which became Public Law
74-823 that authorized "the striking of an appropriate medal in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of
the original Norfolk (Virginia) land grant and the two-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the city of
Norfolk, Virginia, as a borough."
The law began, "That in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of the original Norfolk (Virginia) land
grant and the two-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the city of Norfolk, Virginia, as a borough, there
shall be struck at a mint of the United States to be designated by the Director of the Mint twenty-five thousand
commemorative medals of a special appropriate single design, size, weight, and composition to be fixed by the
Director of the Mint with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury.
"SEC. 2. Such commemorative medals shall be delivered to the duly authorized officers of the Norfolk Advertising
Board, Incorporated, affiliated with the Norfolk Association of Commerce, upon payment to the Director of the Mint
of an amount to be fixed by the Director of the Mint not less than the estimated cost of manufacture, including
labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses; and security satisfactory to the Director of the
Mint shall be furnished to indemnify the United States for the full payment of such cost.
"SEC. 3. Whoever shall falsely make, forge, or counterfeit or cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, or
counterfeited or shall aid in falsely making, forging, or counterfeiting any medal issued under the provisions of
this Act, or whoever shall sell or bring into the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof
from any foreign place, or have in his possession any such false, forged, or counterfeited medal, shall be fined
not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
The Coinage Law...
Just a couple of days over a year later on June 28, 1937, the first session of the 75th Congress approved an act
which became Public Law 75-164 that authorized "the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the three
hundredth anniversary of the original Norfolk (Virginia) land grant and the two-hundredth anniversary of the
establishment of the city of Norfolk, Virginia, as a borough."
The law begins, "That in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of the original Norfolk (Virginia)
land grant and the two-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the city of Norfolk, Virginia, as a borough
there shall be coined at one mint only of the United States to be designated by the Director of the Mint not to
exceed twenty-five thousand silver 50-cent pieces of standard size, weight, and composition and of a special
appropriate single 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 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 Norfolk Advertising Board, Incorporated, affiliated with the Norfolk Association of
Commerce upon payment by it of the par value of such coins but not less than twenty-five thousand such coins shall
be issued to it 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 association, subject to the
approval of the Director of the Mint, 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 - Norfolk VA Bicentennial
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
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 $330 (low grade - XF) to $370 (high grade - MS-66).
Extraordinary characteristics on the Norfolk VA Bicentennial Half Dollar can command a price outside the
estimated value range.
Obverse - Norfolk VA Bicentennial Half
The obverse or front of the coin shows the official seal of the city of Norfolk—a ship, plow and shocks of
The coinage inscriptions say, Borough of Norfolk Bicentennial 1936, City of Norfolk Virginia Town–1682,
Borough–1736, City–1845, and Et Terra Et Mare Divitiae Tuae Crescas.
Artist: William Marks Simpson
Reverse - Norfolk VA Bicentennial Half
The reverse or back of the coin features a mace flanked by two floral sprays.
The coinage inscriptions read United States of America, Half Dollar, Norfolk Virginia Land Grant, In God We
Trust, E Pluribus Unum, Liberty and 1636.
Artist: William Marks Simpson
Commentary - Norfolk VA Bicentennial Half
The stated mintage was "not to exceed twenty-five thousand silver 50-cent pieces" and "coined at one mint
Records show the Philadelphia Mint produced 16,936 of the Norfolk VA Bicentennial half dollar coins, which
is not the 25,000 delivery number specified in SEC 2 of the coinage law.
With many commemorative coins in the mid-1930s and a poor economy, the association was not able
to sell all of the coins.
The coin pictured above resides in an PCGS holder and is graded as an MS-66. (PCGS is Professional Coin Grading
Versions of the coin also exist across a variety of the grades.
The coin's obverse included the official City of Norfolk Seal, which is the city's fourth official seal.
The first occurred in 1740, the second in 1741 and the third in 1845.
In 1913, the seal changed into the one recognized today.
The new seal retained the plow and wheat sheaves and changed the ship into a full-rigged sailing ship.
The legend “Et terra et mare divitiae tuae” was added over the ship, and the motto “Crescas” under the
The legend's intended translation was “Both by land and by sea thy riches (are);” and the motto, “Thou
The outer border of the seal provided the dates when Norfolk was incorporated as a town, borough, and
This Seal of the City of Norfolk remains the formal recognition for the city, however the
city's logo, or maybe mascot, is a young mermaid symbolizing Norfolk's 300 years of maritime
and naval heritage and as a city on the move.
In April 1754, Royal Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie presented the historic Mace to the Norfolk Common
Council for the Borough of Norfolk.
In medieval times, a mace was a weapon.
Later, Sergeants at Arms used a mace to protect royalty.
The ceremonial mace represents authority and good will and provides symbols of honor to acknowledge the
presence of a public official.
The Norfolk mace is made of interlocking sections of silver and adorned with symbols representing England,
France, Ireland, and Scotland embellishing its surface.
During the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Norfolk's Mace was hidden.
Today, it is the only Mace in the US residing in the city for which it was made.
Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Norfolk VA Bicentennial for a
variety of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.