(I apologize for my recent "disappearance" -- I've had to attend to other matters of late, but I'm back now to finish off the postings of the last three coins in my 55-piece type and major variety classic US commemorative set. And so...)
Today we have a look at a half-dollar with one of the more "interesting" designs of the classic commemorative series, the 1935 Hudson, New York Sesquicentennial. The coin is presented via an example in PCGS
The coin is another in the string of mid-1930s "city" coins that had more local significance than national and likely would have been more appropriately served by a commemorative medal rather than a legal tender coin. It is one of four classic commemoratives with a distinct New York theme, with the 1936 Albany, 1936 Long Island and 1938 New Rochelle being the others.Read More: Commems Collection
The city of Hudson, New York is located on the eastern shore of the Hudson River in Columbia County approximately 105 miles (as the crow flies) north of New York City; it was chartered as a city in 1785. European settlement of the area began about 160 years before when the Dutch purchased land from the local Mohican Native Americans in 1622; at the time, the Mohican's territory comprised a large area within the Hudson River Valley. The area was originally known as Claverack and was mostly a farming community. The benefits of the area's twin harbors was recognized in the 1700s, and the area eventually became an important port city and served as home for a growing number of fisherman and ocean whalers after its charter as the city of Hudson.
It is believed that Henry Hudson, under sponsorship of the Dutch East India Company, was the first Englishman to visit the area, doing so in 1609. Hudson had traveled west from England multiple times in search of a northwest passage to the Far East. During his third voyage, he spent time exploring the river that led north of present-day New York City, traveling as far north as present-day Albany. His ship during this voyage was the merchant ship the Half Moon
. Hudson, however, did not settle the area during his voyage and is not directly connected to those who founded the city.
The Hudson half-dollar has one of the more "fun" -- some have called it "whimsical" -- obverse designs within the classic US commemorative series; it should be noted that what today's collector considers the obverse of the coin was originally referenced as its reverse. The obverse design was based on the then-current seal of the city of Hudson. It features Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, holding a trident while sitting backward on a spouting whale; a mermaid blowing a conch shell is seen in the background at left. I've always thought that the almost cartoon-like image of Neptune on the whale resides in a place all its own within the series. (Note: the present-day seal of the city no longer includes Neptune or a mermaid).
The reverse of the coin depicts Hudson's ship, the Half Moon
with a rather fanciful crescent moon in the background at left. The coin is the work of Chester Beach, a noted artist/sculptor whose work can also be seen on the 1923 Monroe Doctrine
, 1925 Lexington-Concord and 1928 Hawaiian commemorative half-dollars; Beach prepared the models for the Hawaiian from design sketches by Juliette May Fraser.
One design footnote, the initial design suggestions for the Hudson half-dollar called for a portrait of Henry Hudson for the obverse and the city seal of Hudson for the reverse. Chester Beach convinced the Hudson Sesquicentennial Commission that the Half Moon
would be a more appropriate design feature and make for a better overall coin. His powers of persuasion led to the coin with which we are all familiar.
The Hudson is one of three classic commemorative half-dollars with a mintage of just 10,000 coins; the 1928 Hawaiian Sesquicentennial and the 1936 Old Spanish Trail coins are the others. Though it shares the distinction of "lowest mintage" among the types of silver half-dollars, it does not carry the price premium that is seen with the Hawaiian. In fact, in a grade of MS-65, a Hudson can typically be purchased for roughly one-third the cost of similarly graded Hawaiian (same is true for a Spanish Trail, one-third the price of a Hawaiian).
Hudson's are not known for strong, highly-detailed strikes. Softness in the details of Neptune's face and body on the obverse and in the ship's lower sails on the reverse are the norm vs. the exception.
The coin presented is a brilliant example with nice cartwheel luster on both obverse and reverse and the slightest hint of pastel toning.
In addition to the coin, I've included an advertisement for the Hudson half-dollar from 1935 (shortly after its authorization).
Enjoy!1935 Hudson, NY Sesquicentennial -- Obverse1935 Hudson, NY Sesquicentennial -- ReverseContemporary Advertisement for the Hudson Half-Dollar (The Numismatist, July 1935)