I posted recently about how the original bills that proposed the 1936 Long Island and 1936 Gettysburg commemorative half dollars included vague language that would have given considerable leeway to their respective sponsors in terms of which mints could strike their coins, when they could be struck and how many could be released in a given year. (1936 Battle of Gettysburg
and 1936 Long Island Tercentenary
Fortunately, the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency stepped in and tightened up the language of each bill before it was passed by Congress and signed into law. It turns out that Representatives in the House were not the only ones who could introduce vague commemorative legislation in the mid-1930s - Senators could do it as well! Exhibit A, the 1936 Delaware Tercentenary half dollar.
The proposal for what would become the Delaware Tercentenary half dollar was introduced in the Senate via a Joint Resolution on March 16 1936. It had been preceded by joint resolutions introduced in the House and Senate earlier in March, but had a notable difference: the new bill named the "Delaware Tercentenary Commission" as the coin's sponsor vs. the "Coin Committee of Delaware Tercentenary Celebration." The Tercentenary Commission was the official body created by the Delaware legislature to plan and coordinate the state's tercentenary celebrations. As the new resolution was introduced in the Senate by Senator Joseph F. Guffey (D-PA), the same Senator who introduced the previous resolution a few days earlier, it appears likely that the "Coin Committee" name used in the original resolution was a placeholder name vs. an established, private and non-state-sanctioned group.
The resolution called for "not more than twenty thousand" half dollars "of a special appropriate design, containing some recognized emblem of the State of Delaware." It allowed for the coins to be struck at multiple Mint facilities (P, D and S) and to be requested whenever its sponsor - the Tercentenary Commission - desired (i.e., a multi-year program would be allowed).
Once the bill was reviewed by the Senate's Committee on Banking and Currency, it immediately recognized the resolution's all-too-familiar issues and offered an amendment to the bill in the form of a substitute. As it had done with the Long Island and Gettysburg coins, the Committee proposed language that restricted the coin's parameters to ensure that only one design would be struck, that all coins struck would be dated with the year authorized (i.e., 1936), that minting would be limited to one year and that a defined minimum number of coins would be required for each order (in this case, the Committee set the minimum at 5,000).
The Senate accepted the Committee's substitute recommendation, passed the resolution and sent it off to the House for consideration. The House's Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures reviewed the resolution and recommended that it pass, but with a few changes. It recommended that the mintage be changed to "not less than twenty-five thousand" (this change simultaneously increased the minimum mintage by five thousand coins and removed the maximum mintage cap - 50,000 or 100,000 (or more) coins were suddenly allowed) and that the Commission would be required to order a minimum of 25,000 coins at one time - no "mini" orders allowed! The House wanted to make sure that the coin's sponsor did not try to manipulate the market scarcity of its coin by only requesting a small portion of the authorized coins to be minted.
The Senate concurred with the House's amendments and passed the resolution on May 4, 1936 and sent it on to President Franklin D. Roosevelt for approval; Roosevelt signed the resolution into law on May 15th. The 1936 Delaware Tercentenary half dollar was born! Of course, Delaware's New Sweden Tercentenary would not occur until 1938, but what's a couple of years among collectors?
In the end, 20,993 of the 25,000 coins struck were sold with the balance of just over 4,000 returned to the Mint to be melted.
I've made multiple posts about the Delaware Tercentenary Half Dollar, you can find them here: Read More: Commems Collection