This Iowa Statehood Centennial Half Dollar, commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Iowa's statehood, was designed by Adam Pietz of Philadelphia.
The obverse design is and adaptation of the state arms, with 29 stars above the eagle, indicating Iowa's rank as 29th state to enter the Union. On many specimens the motto is not too clearly brought up; its full text is OUR LIBERTIES WE PRIZE AND OUR RIGHTS WE WILL MAINTAIN.
Reverse device is the old state capitol in Iowa City, called the Old Stone Capitol. At lower right border, between a final A of statutory inscription and final R of DOLLAR, is AP, for Adam Pietz, Assistant Engraver of the Mint.
The presence of a new administration (that of Harry S. Truman) gave promoters of this and other commemorative issues some hope of passage of authorizing acts; accordingly, the Iowa State Centennial under Governor Blue exerted pressure in Congress, 1945-1946, so that on July 15, 1946, a bill passed the House. President Truman doubtless favorably influenced by the coin's being for a state centennial rather than some local commercial enterprise signed it into law on August 7, 1946.
Local pride, mostly for once that Five Finger Word appears to have been conspicuously absent.
Whichever members of the State Centennial Committee suggested the devices; it is also possible that the designers of the Iowa Territorial Centennial stamp of 1938 might belong here, as its Old Stone Capitol motif without the plaza outbuildings or sidewise stairs was echoed on the coins.
On September 13, 1946, Nellie Tayloe (Ma) Ross, the Mint Director, submitted designs to the Federal Commission of Fine Arts. On September 16, Governor Blue told the Commission that his Centennial Committee had already approved the deigns. The next day Gilmore Clarke, chairman of the designs. The next day Gilmore Clarke, chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, recommended that legs be added to the eagle and that the plaster models be resubmitted. On December 1, Acting Director of the Mint Leland Howard submitted plaster models, with the talons added as requested, but this time he informed the Commission that the artist was Adam Pietz. Six days later, Gilmore Clarke indicated that the Commission "imposes no objection to the minting of the coins", but mostly in view of the late date of submission of models.
During November 1946, the Mint struck 100,000 pieces plus 57 reserved for assay; these were shipped at once to the Iowa Centennial Committee at the State House in Des Moines. The Committee made extraordinary efforts to exclude speculators. Initial price was $2.50 to Iowa residents, $3 to outsiders. Iowans were apportioned coins according to county and population, and the coins were sold through local banks via a lottery system. Would be purchasers selected numbered tickets; if their numbers were drawn in the lottery, the holders could present their tickets to the local distributing bank, these tickets awarding the right to make purchases, though not guaranteeing that coins would be available. If a given bank's allotment was exhausted earlier, would be buyers would have to wait until some other bank, unable to sell its own allotment, shipped duplicates.
Some 5,000 specimens were reserved for out of state sales at $3, any unsold local coins being earmarked for the same purpose. These were all sold within a few weeks, as were the 94,000 intended for local sales. For the state sesquicentennial in 1996, and for its bicentennial in 2046, 500 coins each were set aside. Half of each batch is intended for presentation to VIPs during the celebration dates, by orders of the Governor and the Centennial Commission.
Despite these tactics, or possibly partly because of them, the Iowa half dollars sold out completely, without a speculative market ever developing. Cheques had to be addressed to State Treasurer, State House, Des Moines.
No holders have been met with and possibly one were made for initial distribution of the coins.
No proofs or special presentation strikings are even rumored. There are two philatelic tie ins, but the connection of the first is at best secondary; this is the 3c violet "Iowa Territory Centennial" issue, Scott 838 (Type A310), featuring the same building as the coins. This stamp was released on August 24, 1938, a total of 47,064,300 being issued.
The other one is the Iowa Statehood Issue, featuring state flag and map; this is the 3c deep blue, 132,430,000. First day covers for the 1938 stamp, dated August 24, postmarked Des Moines, were issued to the amount of 209,860; for the 1946 stamp, dated August 3, 1946, they were issued postmarked Iowa City, to a total of 517,505 the largest in its own day except for the 1939 World's Fair 3c.
This issue is always available for a price! Its investment potential is considered good, provided that your specimens are in truly choice or gem state and that the details of the eagle's head and neck are well struck. Nicked or weak examples of this coin are not recommended.