In 1937, the Rhode Island Tercentenary Commission issued its report regarding the "Celebration of the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the Settlement of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in 1636 by Roger Williams."
The report, a hardcover volume of some 158 pages, provides a nicely complete summary of the activities of the Commission and its various committees. It includes a review of the numerous tercentenary celebration events that were held, the educational programs and exhibits staged, the dozens of books and historical maps that were published, as well as the road markers and memorials that were erected. Read More: Commems Collection
As one would expect, the volume also includes a discussion of the commemorative half-dollar. The report recounts the quick, near sell-out of the coins on their first day of release, and mentions the higher prices that were charged for the coins by coin dealers within days of the coins being released. The report proudly states, however, that the Jubilee Committee, the group responsible for the coin, held firm with its announced price for the half-dollar and sold its supply for either $1.00 (local sales) or $1.15 (mail orders). According to the report, the first Rhode Island commemorative half-dollar was purchased by Ethelbert A. Rusden of Providence
For a discussion of the "Opening Day Sell-out" of the Rhode Island half-dollar, see the discussion here: http://goccf.com/t/146787
A somewhat unusual inclusion in the report is the extended discussion of the coin that was written by John Howard Benson, one of the coin's designers. In addition to his explanation of the obverse and reverse designs for the coin, Benson included a few comments that I find particularly interesting.
The first is a discussion concerning the inclusion of required inscriptions on US commemorative coins. Benson remarked, "On most such coins the words required by mint regulations are often put on as small as possible. Here we have made them a definite part of the whole pattern so that ornamentation and lettering fit together in an integral design."
I would argue that the inscriptions "United States of America," "Half Dollar" and "E Pluribus Unum" as presented on the Rhode Island half-dollar are proportionally similar in size to many of the US commemorative coins that preceded it, but I agree that the inscription "In God We Trust" is definitely presented in larger letters than what had been seen previously (when the inscription was included). I also agree with Benson's assertion that the inscriptions are better incorporated into the design. The use of the inscriptions to form a wide border that completely encircles the central devices of the obverse and reverse definitely makes for a well-integrated design.
Another interesting comment is Benson's reference to the future development of toning/coloring on the coins - though I'm not sure if he was referring to coins kept out of circulation by collectors or to those that might be placed into circulation. Benson commented, "All silver coins turn black eventually and the best ones give a beautiful black and white pattern, the background remaining black and the raised portions white. When this happens to the Rhode Island coin, it will have an unusual effect." In my view, the circulated examples of the Rhode Island posted here on CCF are more in line with this comment than are toned, mint state examples.
Following is an interesting discussion of the Rhode Island name included in the report, along with a pair of images of the coin.Commission Report: Rhode Island Name1936 Rhode Island Commemorative Half-Dollar: Obverse1936 Rhode Island Commemorative Half-Dollar: Reverse