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ALBANY COMMEMORATIVE

The Albany Charter half dollar was designed by Gertrude K. Lathrop. It commemorates the 250th anniversary of the charter of Albany, New York. The obverse depicts a beaver facing right gnawing on a branch from a maple tree. The reverse shows three colonial men standing with an eagle flying above. The men are Governor Dongan saying goodbye to Robert Livingston and Peter Schuyler. Peter Schuyler, shown holding the new Albany charter, was one of the commissaries who became Albany’s first mayor. Robert Livingston became the clerk of the city and county of Albany .

Thomas Dongan was the governor who signed the charter on July 22, 1686. The obverse inscription is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA on the upper periphery in large caps with each word separated by dots. E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left below UNITED STATES in very small letters and IN GOD WE TRUST is to the right under AMERICA also in very small letters. HALF DOLLAR in large letters is below with ornaments representing maple leaves separating it from the other legend. The reverse legend is ALBANY NY below the three figures and SETTLED 1614 CHARTERED 1686 with the words all separated by dots. Ornaments representing pine cones separate ALBANY NY from the other legend.

In discussing the obverse design, Lathrop said in a letter to the editor of the Numismatist November 1936 issue, “I found very little material about the personal appearance of these three men. My portrayal of the two young gentlemen from Albany was based upon a portrait of each, painted fully thirty years after their historic trip; and that of Dongan, upon a brief description of the ‘stalwart and soldierly’ Irishman who came from England to be Governor. There is no authentic portrait of him.” Of the reverse she added, “Beavers were plentiful in the vicinity of Albany at that time. The community’s wealth and prosperity can be traced to this fact, as trade in beaver pelts was the main industry of the settlers. The beaver was used on the early seals of the city and is also on the present seal….The maple branch is used with the beaver because the maple is the New York State tree, and the introduction of maple leaves on the side and pine cones on the reverse is symbolic of the growth and fertility of the community.”

Although 25,000 coins were authorized, only 17,671 were distributed including 13 assay coins. 7,342 were melted. The coins were issued by the Albany Dongan Charter Coin Committee of Albany, New York. The official sale price of the coin was two dollars.
The original packaging was a cardboard coin holder with five spaces. It had a printed cover. There were also a white box with a blue interior and a red box with a red interior. The imprint is “The National Commercial Bank and Trust Company of Albany,” and the coat of arms.

Half Dollars



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