It is arbitrary which side is designated as obverse. The mayor of Hudson had originally suggested a bust of Hudson for obverse device, the city seal for reveres. Beach himself referred to the ship side as obverse; we will follow his view. Buried in the waves below the ship is the word HUDSON, referring less to the city than to the explorer Henry Hudson (an Englishman, though the Dutchmen in New York liked to Hollandize his name as "Hendrick"). His ship, the Half Moon (again alias Halve Maene among the Dutch patroons), rides at full sail, with a crescent moon in field representing its name, and two unidentifiable flags from mainmast and foremast. If it is intended as a crescent moon just past new, then the ship sails east back to Europe at sunset; if a waning moon before dawn, the ship is heading westward. The small circular emblem in field is Chester Beach's monogrammed CB as designer.
On the other side is the city seal of Hudson, New York, with the quaint device of King Neptune riding backward on a spouting whale, whose eye is represented as being about where is blowhole should be. Neptune is briefly clad in a wisp of cloth "blowing in the wind." Behind them is a triton blowing his or her horn. ET DECUS ET PRETIUM RECTI ("Both an ornament and a reward of the righteous man") is the village's motto. Anniversary dates 1785-1935 allude to the incorporation of this settlement, originally called Claverack Landing (these is still a nearby village of Claverack and an extensive district known by that name).
On a "monkey see, monkey do" basis, dozens of bills seeking to authorize commemorative coinages for this village or that county or the other local exposition went to the House Coinage Committee, and four of them were actually reported out during the year 1935. For reasons unknown, probably the usual "you vote for my bill and I'll vote for yours" arrangement, that for Hudson, New York, was voted into law, becoming the Act of May 2, 1935 simultaneously with one for coinage for Providence, Rhode Island.
When Rep. Goodwin had to locate a sculptor who could design the newly authorized coins, he wrote to Charles Moore of the Federal Commission of Fine Arts. Moore recommended Laura Gardin Fraser and four others. Mayor Wise countered with the name of John Flannagan, who had designed the Washington quarter dollar; though the Commission consented, in the end Chester Beach got the assignment, possibly because he was the only one whose work the Mint would readily approve who was willing to do the models for only $1000 - lower than most of the earlier fees mentioned by Taxay for designing commemorative coins. Beach completed the models in slightly over a week, and they were the models in slightly over a week, and they were promptly approved, going during the first week of June to Medallic Art Company for reduction to half dollar size. The Commission of Fine Arts had approved them on May 28th. In unusual haste even for these issues, the Mint completed the working dies in June and struck 10,000 coins (reserving 8 extra for assay), delivering the entire batch on June 28 to the First National Bank & Trust Co. of Hudson, on the mayor's orders, on behalf of the "Hudson Sesquicentennial Committee," probably the mayor and city fathers.
Ostensibly the coins were to be on public sale at $1 apiece, beginning on June 28. By July 2, it was announced that the entire issue was sold. We have learned in intervening years that most of them were hoarded, speculators later releasing smal quantities at much higher prices. One of us knows families in the Hudson area who retain nine original rolls (180 pieces); these families are unwilling to sell in the foreseeable future. Other smaller hoards have been dispersed in recent years, but the coin remains far more difficult to locate, especially in gem state, than its mintage would suggest, and in all likelihood many hundreds, possibly over 1,000, remain squirreled away in upstate bank vaults. The announcement that these coins had "sold out" in five days, followed by offerings at greatly increased prices, gave rise to much adverse criticism; yet the coin has remained in great demand ever since.
Most survivors are in rather less than choice state; and even those in gem condition are weak on King Neptune's face, leg, motto, hull, and central sails. If you are in doubt as to whether your coin is in full mint state, look for mint frost on those weak areas.
Two matte proofs are reported, one of them from John R. Sinnock estate. They are better struck than most of the normal business strikes. However, they can be readily imitated by pickling or sandblasting normal coins, so authentication is mandatory; we have already seen treated or processed coins purporting to be matte proofs.
Two original holders are reported; we do not have full descriptions of these. Dangerous counterfeits of this issue are known. If a coin offered to you shows any of the raised marks on the enlarged illustrations (note especially around MERI, and on city motto), it is to be rejected.
If in doubt, have it sent to ANACS for authentication. One could, by stretching a point, consider the 2c carmine Hudson-Fulton Celebration stamp as a tie-in, especially as this stamp depicts the Half Moon. These are respectively listed as Scott 372 and 373, the design being Type A143.
In the R.E. Cox collection was a set of three copper uniface impressions from the hub used for making the ship die. They are very slightly different. The set went as lot 2306, 1962 New York Metropolitan sale.