Classic Coins - Roanoke Island
NC 350th Anniversary Half Dollar
The US Mint produced the Roanoke Island NC 350th Anniversary Half Dollar Classic
Commemorative Coin to remember the anniversary of the founding of Sir Walter Raleigh's colony on Roanoke
Island, North Carolina and to recognize the birth of Virginia Dare, the first child born in the
New World with English parents.
Characteristics - size, weight, metal content, value range
Obverse - picture, description, artist
Reverse - picture, description, artist
Commentary - coin notes, mintage information, historical comments, fun
On June 24, 1936, the second session of the 74th Congress approved an act which became Public Law
74-790 that authorized "the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the three hundred and fiftieth
anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh's colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, known in history as the Lost Colony,
and the birth of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parentage to be born on the American continent."
The law began, "That in commemoration of the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh's
colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, known in history as the Lost Colony, and the birth of Virginia Dare, the
first child of English parentage to be born on the American continent, 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 specially prepared 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 1937, 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 Roanoke Colony Memorial Association of Manteo, North Carolina, 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 July 1, 1937. Such coins may be disposed of at par or at a premium by the
Roanoke Colony Memorial Association of Manteo, North Carolina, 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 - Roanoke Island NC
350th Anniversary 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: 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 $160 (low grade - XF) to $205 (high grade - MS-66).
Extraordinary characteristics on the Roanoke Island NC 350th Anniversary Half Dollar can command a price outside
the estimated value range.
Obverse - Roanoke Island NC 350th Anniversary
The obverse or front of the coin shows a left-facing portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh with a feather in his
hat, trimmed beard and pleated collar.
The coinage inscriptions say, United States of America, E Pluribus Unum, Liberty, 1937, Sir Walter Raleigh, and
Artist: William Marks Simpson
Reverse - Roanoke Island NC 350th Anniversary
The reverse or back of the coin features the figure of a woman representing Ellinore Dare with her child,
commemorating the birth place of Virginia Dare, the first child born in the British colonies to English parents.
Two sailing ships and a pine branch can be seen in the background.
The coinage inscriptions read The Colonization of Roanoke Island North Carolina 1587-1937, The Birth of Virginia
Dare, and In God We Trust.
Artist: William Marks Simpson
Commentary - Roanoke Island NC 350th
Anniversary Half Dollar
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 29,030 of the Roanoke Island NC 350th Anniversary half dollar coins,
which is not a multiple of 25,000 as per 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 to
reach a population of 50,000.
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.
In March 1584, Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to a poet and explorer, named Walter Raleigh, for
him to explore and settle land in the New World on behalf of England.
Raleigh became Sir Walter Raleigh in January 1585 after being knighted.
Raleigh prepared an expedition, led by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe.
These men arrived in Pamlico Sound in present-day North Carolina and landed on Roanoke Island.
Their enthusiastic description of the land's bounty led to the establishment of a colony on Roanoke the next
In 1587, John White, an artist is designated governor of the newly chartered "Cittie of Virginia."
He sets sail on the Lyon with 115 men, women and children for the new colony on the Chesapeake Bay.
In July the ship stops at Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island to look for people.
While White searches, his navigator, Simon Ferdinando, forced the colonists ashore and sailed away.
White's daughter, Eleanor Dare, gave birth to a daughter, Virginia, in August.
Later that month, John White went back to England for reinforcements and supplies.
In April 1588, White started back to the New World but is forced to turn around due to threats
from the Spanish Armada.
All ships, including White's, were confiscated for fighting the war with Spain.
White finally returned to Roanoke Island in 1590, but the settlement was abandoned.
White found a clue, the word "CROATOAN" carved into a tree.
At that time, "CROATOAN" was the name of an island to the south known today as Hatteras Island.
But, White did not visit "CROATAN" to see if any colonists still survived, thus the colony became known as
The Lost Colony.
More recently, joint research between Americans and British regarding maps from that era yielded, "We
believe that this evidence provides conclusive proof that they moved westward up the Albemarle Sound to the
confluence of the Chowan and Roanoke rivers."
Visit our GACS Numismatic Shoppe Roanoke Island NC 350th Anniversary
for a variety of useful items decorated with images of the classic commemorative silver half dollar coin.