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1937 Sir Walter Raleigh-Virginia Dare (Roanoke Island, NC) Half Dollar

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This baby arrived from John at Coin Rarities Online (CRO):







A little history:

50,030 pieces coined at the Philadelphia Mint with 30 pieces reserved for annual assay and 21,000 melted. Designed and modeled by William Marks Simpson. Distributed by the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association, Manteo, NC, D. B. Fearing Chairman. 


Authorized by Congress on June 24, 1936 and issued to commemorate 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.



Obverse: Bust of Sir Walter Raleigh to left, in ruff and plumed hat; around outer border, at top, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; around lower border, HALF DOLLAR; in inner circle in smaller letters E PLURIBUS UNUM; below, SIR WALTER RALEIGH; in left field 1937; below bust, the artist’s initials, WMS in a monogram.


Reverse: Female holding child, representing Eleanor Dare and her daughter Virginia; in background, two sailing ships; right of base a small pine tree; below base the dates 1587-1937; around outer border; THE COLONIZATION OF ROANOKE ISLAND NORTH CAROLINA; in inner circle; THE BIRTH OF VIRGINA DARE; in lower left field, IN GOD WE TRUST.


    Designed by William Marks Simpson of Baltimore who was director of the Rhinehart School of Sculpture of the Maryland Institute in Baltimore. The coins were distributed by the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association, Manteo, N. C., D. B. Fearing chairman, at one dollar and sixty-five cents each. The Roanoke Island Colony is known in history as the ‘lost colony,’ and is famous as the birthplace of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parentage to be born on the American continent.


    Speculation in the field of memorial coins by a few unscrupulous dealers constitutes a problem to organizations fostering historical commemorations,’ declares D. B. Fearing, chairman of the Roanoke Island Historical Association, the group which is actively sponsoring the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the first English colony at Fort Raleigh. This celebration, which starts on July 4 and ends on September 4, reaches its climax on August 18, the birthday of Virginia Dare, first white child of English parentage born in this country.




Sir Walter Raleigh. This portrait was engraved shortly before his last voyage and is the only one published during his lifetime. Courtesy Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, North Carolina, by Charles W. Porter III. National Park Service Historical Handbook Series No. 16, Washington, D. C., 1952 (Revised 1956).


    This organization has charge of the issuance of the Virginia Dare-Sir Walter Raleigh commemorative half dollar, and it is because of the high price and misrepresentation of some coin dealers in marketing this piece that Mr. Fearing has been aroused to a very real danger to the public.

    There are several instances which have been reported to us in detail where dealers have declared the issue of this commemorative piece exhausted,’ says Mr. Fearing.

    ‘That is definitely not so. We have approximately 8,000 of these half dollars available to order through either the Roanoke Island Historical Society or the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association of Manteo. And it is ridiculous to pay a dealer between two and three dollars when these coins may be secured from us at a cost of one dollar and sixty-five cents, fifteen cents of which covers postage, insurance and handling. All proceeds from the sale of these coins will be used in defraying expenses incidental and appropriate to the commemorative festival. So when a dealer claims this issue is exhausted he is talking through his hat. We have enforced the rule that no more than ten coins are available to any one person, and we reserve the right to reject any order that looks to us as if it were a ringer for a dealer. Orders will be filled in the order of their receipt, but only when accompanied by check, postal or express money order.1


1 The Numismatist, May, 1937.


It's a beauty John, much thanks!

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Very few of the classic commems come in Prooflike, but the Roanoke is one of them. Very cool. 

It is a little bit hard to see the PL-ness in these photographs. In hand, does it have strong mirrors? Those older slabs are kind of hit-or-miss with the actual quality of the PL designation - they were a bit looser than they are today. 

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I currently subscribe to Coin Rarities Online early bird listings and have always been impressed with the quality of the coins and tokens they offer. The Roanoke Island Half that leeg got from them is reflective of their entire inventory. I just wish their early bird listings had the coins I need for my collection. Oh well, I get the early bird e-mail listings in the hope that one day they will have something I want. If anyone is interested CRO currently has another very nice Roanoke Island Half in their inventory!


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