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Products showing Modern Commemorative Coins on the Greater Atlanta Coin Show's Numismatic Shoppe

Classic Coins - Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar

In 1920 and 1921, the US Mint produced the Pilgrim Tercentenary half dollar classic commemorative coin to recognize the anniversary of the Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock on their ship, the Mayflower.

Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments, fun facts

The 66th Congress approved, “An act to authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of hte three hundredth anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims.”

On May 12, 1920, Public Law 66-203 granted the authority to the Director of the Mint to produce up to 300,000 of the commemorative half dollar coins.

The law stated, "such 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, which 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 United States shall not be subject to the expense of making the necessary dies and other preparations for this coinage."

Characteristics - Pilgrim Tercentenary 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: 1920-1921

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 $55 (low grade - XF) to $675 (high grade - MS-66).

Extraordinary characteristics on the Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar can command a  price outside the estimated value range.

Obverse - Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar

In commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower, the obverse or front of the coin shows an image of Governor William Bradford carrying a Bible.

The inscriptions read, United States of America, Pilgrim Half Dollar, and In God We Trust.

This coin shows the year minted, 1921, however the versions minted in 1920 do not have the year on the obverse.

Artist: Cyrus E. Dallin

Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar Obverse

Reverse - Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar

The reverse or back of the coin shows an image of the pilgrims' ship, the Mayflower, riding wind-whipped ocean waves.

The coinage inscriptions read, Pilgrim Tercentenary Celebration 1620-1920.

Artist: Cyrus E. Dallin

Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar Reverse

Commentary - Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar

Though the stated mintage was 300,000, records show just over 172,000 were distributed.

The US Mint melted roughly 128,000 to re-use the metal.

More of the 1920 coins exist without a date on the obverse (~152,000) than the 1921 versions (~20,000).

As a result, the 1921 Pilgrim Tercentenary Half Dollar coins enjoy a slightly higher value across the various grades.

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 Bradford was not the first governor of the Plymouth Colony in 1620. He became the second governor in 1621. From 1621 through 1657, he served several terms for a total of 30 years as governor.

Some believe the "pilgrim" designation for these early settlers came from a line in Bradford's journal:

"...With mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leaves of one another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them...but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to heaven, their dearest country and quieted their spirits..."

Initially, a second ship, the Speedwell, set out on the journey, but it leaked so badly, they returned to port where all of the pilgrims boarded the Mayflower to travel to the New World.

Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Pilgrim Tercentenary for a variety of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.


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