The two accolated busts represent a Dutch settler and an Algonquin Indian, respectively symbolizing the Dutch settlement on Jamaica Bay (1636), named Breuckelin (later anglicized to Brooklyn), and the 13 tribes of Indians living on Long Island when Henry Hudson discovered it. Below the Indian's chin is the monogram of the designer, Howard Kenneth Weinman (son of A.A. Weinman who had designed the then current Mercury dime and Walking Liberty half dollar), who thus became part of the second father and son team ever design U.S. Coins. (The first, of course, was William and Charles E. Barber, successive Engravers of the U.S. Mint.)
On reverse is a Dutch three masted ship, presumably meant for one of those that brought settles over to Breuckelin, but nowhere identifiable by name.
Local celebrations in May 1936, sponsored by the Long Island Tercentenary Celebration Committee (a.k.a. the Long Island Tercentenary Committee: Louis C. Wills, chairman; John W. Smith, secretary; DeWitt A. Forward, treasurer; National City Bank of New York, People's Trust Branch, 181 Montague Street, Brooklyn, depository). These people exerted enough political clout to have commemorative coin authorized as of April 13, 1936, to "commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first settlement on Long Island, New York."
The coins were to "bear the date 1936, irrespective of the year in which they were minted or issued"; they were to be struck at "a mint" (rather than "at the mints" hence no mintmark varieties), and issued not later than April 13, 1937, to a maximum of 100,000 pieces.
Presumably, fund raising for the celebrations, though the coins did not arrive until August, or a couple of months after the celebrations ended. As early as April 2, or nearly two weeks before the bill became law, the Committee appointed young Weinman to design and model the coin. Weinman completed his models during May 1936, and the Federal Commission of Fine Arts approved them (after demanding revision such that the two mottoes were transposed into their present position originally the Latin motto was below the ship) about the 24th of June.
The models then went to Medallic Art Company for reproduction, thence to the Philadelphia Mint, where 100,000 coins were struck (plus 53 reserved for distributed for assay) in August.
The Committee distributed the coins through various banks in New York City and Long Island, at $1 apiece. Despite almost no advertising, they managed to sell 81,773 pieces before the April 13, 1937 deadline, the remaining 18,227 being returned to the Mint for re-melting.
No proofs are reported, though some may have been made for John R. Sinnock, Engraver of the Mint (who incidentally had to letter the incuse motto below ship). Supposedly about 100 of these coins are know in unimprinted holders of issue, apparently the standard Dennisontype holders; but they would hardly command a premium unless one could be sure that the holders were authentic ones from the Committee, e.g., by presence of original envelopes and invoices. We show examples of the latter.
As noted in previous Coin World articles in 1976 and 1977, the purchase of specimens possessing deep nicks and scratches, especially on the lower central sail of the Dutch three masted ship is not recommended. Locating a Long Island that is free of bag marks maybe surprisingly difficult. These coins were handled carelessly at the mint and apparently, by the distributor as well.