The unidentified bust with fringed collar on the obverse of this coin is meant to be Chief Big Turtle, ne Daniel Boone (1734-1820). It is not a portrait but an imaginary idealized figure, not in the slightest degree resembling any of the four contemporaneous descriptions of Boone, nor yet Harding's portrait of Boone (made in 1818), nor even Albin Polasek's bust of him in the New York University Hall of Fame. For the actual source.
On reverse, the pseudo-Boone is represented as with the Shawnee Chief Black Fish (dressed in some other tribe's regalia) in a historically impossible palaver, allegedly discussing the treaty that was to put an end to the nine-day siege of Fort Boones borough, in Transylvania, part of what is now Kentucky. "Boone" is holdings a scroll representing the treaty, together with a musket. Chief Black Fish, who had just adopted Boone as his son (an act which led to Boone being accused of disloyalty), without the expected peace pipe, holds his tomahawk in such a position as to suggest that Boone has just informed him that his fly was open. Behind them are vague suggestions of an embankment and buildings, intended for Boone's blockhouse fort.
Mint mark D or S, on 1935-1938 issues, is placed behind the Chief's heel. We have not found a satisfactory explanation for the phrase PIONEER YEAR, unless that was meant to connect the coin with some publicity releases by the Daniel Boone Bicentennial Commission.
Where normally the bicentennial dates 1734-1934 would be expected, only DANIEL BOONE BICENTENNIAL appears. The reason for this is that when the late 1935-1938 issues came out (August 26, 1935) a supplemental Act of Congress added the original bicentennial date 1934 above PIONEER YEAR, while the date of issue remained at bottom.
The Daniel Boone Bicentennial Commission, which not only specified the devices, but also insisted that Lukeman copy the Albin Polasek bust of Boone in the Hall of Fame. Lukeman's original models ignored the Polasek bust. In correspondence with C. Frank Dunn, Lukeman claimed that the Polasek bust, being backlit, was impossible to copy in profile except in silhouette. What Lukeman did not tell Dunn was that he followed his own fanciful portrait of Boone, which in turn was based on the frontispiece in Colins's History of Kentucky (1847 and 1878 editions). The Commission appears to have been acting, in part, on behalf of the Boone Family Association (Col. William Boone Douglass, president). The latter had originally wished for historical accuracy, no matter how much time and research was necessary, but insisted that the Polasek bust was the only accurate one and must be followed; Douglass, the Bicentennial Commission, and Lukeman were heading for an impasse, when on August 23, 1934, the Lexington Herald (the very paper which Douglass claimed had studied Boone more than any other publication, and which had approved the Polasek bust) approved of Lukeman's designs.
That ended the controversy; the models, which had already been approved by the Federal Commission of Fine Arts, went to Medallic Art Company for reduction, and the Philadelphia Mint began work on the original dies and hubs.
Though the authorizing act may have meant a single variety, the Philadelphia Mint interpreted it to mean that all three mints could strike the coins in several years, as with the Oregon and Texas issues. Accordingly, the first batch, struck at Philadelphia in October 1934, consisted of only 10,000 pieces. The first one was placed in a specially marked envelope, signed by the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint, and delivered on behalf of the Commission by Senator Barkley to President Roosevelt. Most of the others sold at $1.60 each.
Three more batches followed: 10,000 from Philadelphia in March 1935, and 5,000 each from Denver and San Francisco in May. These bore the 1935 date at bottom, like the 1934; the Philadelphia coin sold for $1.10, the branch mint pieces at $1.60 each. Fearing that public confusion might result as to the actual year of the bicentennial, the Boone Bicentennial Commission sought authority from Congress to add the date 1934 above PIONEER YEAR on all coins to be made subsequently. This became law on August 26, 1935.
An immediate consequence was creation of a rarity, or rather a pair of them. The Commission ordered additional coins in the fall of 1935, and in Philadelphia 10,000 more were made with the extra 1934 date during October; but in November the two branch mints delivered 2,000 apiece with the extra date. These were snapped up at once, becoming promptly known as the "Rare Boones," and speculators pushed the price up very rapidly. The controversy that erupted during the next few years about these pieces became extremely acrimonious. Not only was the Commission attacked, the noise reached the Treasury Department, and beyond doubt it confirmed and intensified conservative opposition to commemoratives that continues to the present day.