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The Delaware Tercentenary half dollar was minted during the 1937 (although dated 1936) to commemorate 300th anniversary of the first successful European settlement on the site. The obverse features the Swedish ship the Kalmar Nyckel which sent the first settlers to Delaware, while the reverse depicts Old Swedes Church, claimed to be the oldest Protestant church in the United States. Confusingly, while the coins are dated "1936" on the obverse and the reverse also has the dual date of "1638" and "1938", the coins were actually struck in 1937.[1]

Delaware Tercentenary half dollar
United States
Value50 cents (0.50 US dollars)
Mass12.5 g
Diameter30.61 mm
Thickness2.15 mm (0.08 in)
  • 90.0% silver
  • 10.0% copper
Silver0.36169 troy oz
Years of minting1937
Mint marksNone, all pieces struck at Philadelphia Mint without mint mark.
Delaware swedish tercentenary half dollar commemorative obverse.jpg
DesignOld Swedes Church
DesignerCarl L. Schmitz
Design date1936
Delaware swedish tercentenary half dollar commemorative reverse.jpg
DesignKalmar Nyckel
DesignerCarl L. Schmitz
Design date1936



Unlike other commemoratives of the time, the reason for minting the commemorative was not driven by greed, as it was felt that the 300th anniversary of the first settlement in Delaware was worthy of commemoration considering that Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution. The legislation authorizing the coin was passed on May 15, 1936 which authorized that a minimum of 25,000 coins be struck at a single mint for 1936 only.[2]


When the commission sought to find a design, it chose to hold an open competition rather than hiring an artist as was the case with many other contemporary commemoratives. The competition was judged by the Mint Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock and noted sculptor Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie. Over 40 entries were submitted, all vying for both a $500 prize and the honor of being the final design for the coin. Carl L. Schmitz, an American of German and French descent, was selected for his designs.[2]


A total of 25,000 coins were minted in March 1937 in at the Philadelphia Mint and were sold by the Commission at $1.75 per piece, a relatively high issue price for the time. Of the 25,000 coins minted, 20,978 were sold, with the 4,022 remaining pieces returned to the mint for melting.[2][1]


  1. ^ a b "1936 Delaware Tercentenary Half Dollar Commemorative Coin". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "1936 Delaware 50C MS Silver Commemoratives". Retrieved 18 April 2019.

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