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CONNECTICUT TERCENTENARY
HALF DOLLAR
In commemoration of the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Colony of Connecticut a souvenir Half Dollar was struck.
This very Art Deco design represents the Charter Oak, vaguely after one of C.D.W Brownell's four paintings of this historic tree (completed in pictured in Slabaugh and Taxay), with a prominent cavity in the trunk emphasized for historical reasons rather than realism. (Realism would have made the leaves less than one-tenth the size they are on the coin, compared to the trunk!
This tree was about 1,000 years old and some 21 feet around near the base before lightning blasted it on August 21, 1856.) Use of this tree as a symbol for Connecticut was inevitable: in 1662, King Charles II granted the younger John Winthrop a royal charter for the colony; but when James II succeeded to the throne, he sought to recall all his predecessor's charters and to consolidate all the New England colonies into the Dominion of New England colonies into the Dominion of New England under Governor Sir Edmund Andros (1686). Andros visited the colonial authorities at Hartford on October 31, 1687, and when at a meeting that evening he announced that he intended to seize the charter and return it to the King, all the candles were extinguished long enough for Joseph Wadsworth to hide the charter in the oak tree's historic cavity.
Andros left, infuriated, but powerless as long as he did not have that document. After his patron James II was ousted in the "Glorious Revolution" a year later, the colonists in Boston seized Andros and sent him back to England in chains. The original charter was retrieved (a fragment of which remains with the Connecticut Historical Society), and the tree, ever since called the Charter Oak, became an object of veneration. After lightning felled it, its would was used for making various historical items, including the chair still reserved in the Hartford State House for the President of the State Senate. The Charter Oak Memorial stands today on the site of the tree, at Charter Oak Avenue and Charter Oak Place.
The Charter Oak, then, is a symbol of Connecticut's colonial independence cut from the same bolt of cloth as the more ferociously radical activist variety represented by the Sons of Liberty in Massachusetts.
On the reverse, thirteen stars for the 13 original colonies form a semicircular are around the eagle, though they are so faint as not to be visible on some strikings. This leaves only dates 1635-1935 unexplained. Historians have long taken 1635 as the official date of foundation of the Colony of Connecticut, mostly because in that year John Winthrop the younger (later Royal Governor and recipient of the charter from Charles II) had been named governor on the strength of letters patent from the Earl of Warwick. There had been Dutch settlers in the area for a generation before, and English organized central government before Winthrop.
The Connecticut Tercentenary Commission (Samuel Fisher, chairman) sought approval of an issues of commemorative half dollars in connection with statewide celebrations to be held in 1935. The bill to authorize the mintage became the Act of June 21, 1934.
The Fine Arts Commission approved Kreis' models as of February 4, 1935; the Treasury concurred on February 6, after which the models went to Medallic Art Company for reduction. As the authorizing act specified 25,000 coins, the Philadelphia Mint struck that quantity in a single batch, with 18 extra reserved for assay, during part of April and May 1935. They went on sale through the Tercentenary Committee at $1 apiece; the entire issue sold out and there was no hint of scandal at any time.
Many of these coins went to the general public, and as a result many of them are in none too satisfactory condition, being nicked, scratched, or poorly cleaned. A critical area appears to be the upper part of wing, legs, and claw pads; look for mint frost if any of these are weaker than on the specimen pictured.

Matte proofs exist; the only one we have physically handled is from the John R. Sinnock estate, via lot 2055, 1962 ANA Convention auction. Four or five others are reported. As they could be fraudulently simulated by pickling or sandblasting ordinary uncirculated specimens, we show an enlargement of the authentic proof. No specimen with less detail sharpness than this or with the same granularity within nicks or dents as elsewhere in fields is acceptable.

The normal coins were distributed in small boxes covered with silver foil, and bearing the state arms in dark blue ink, one coin per box. About thirty of these original boxes of issue survive; there are slight variations in the state arms. Unfortunately, we have not had long enough access to any of these to photograph the varieties. A fine philatelic tie-in is the Connecticut Tercentenary or "Charter Oak" 3c stamp, Scott 772, Type A249. This comes in violet (one variety being called rose violet) and its designer is not credited. The tree is obviously based on the Brownell painting, but this time minus cavity, enlarged leaves, or stylization.



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