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.