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A celebration was held in Old Fort Raleigh in 1937 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh's "Lost Colony" and the birth of Virginia Dare, the first white child born in British North America.
Obverse portrays Errol Flynn posing as Sir Walter Ralegh. (The explorer's own spelling; the coin says RALEIGH because the Act of Congress authorizing the issue used that incorrect spelling, and the Commission of Fine Arts insisted that the same form be used on the coin as in the authorizing act!) Monogram WMS below truncation is that of William Marks Simpson, designer, sculptor.
The reverse depicts Eleanor Dare with the infant Virginia Dare in her arms. Behind her is a sapling of either mountain pine or some related evergreen; on either side is a small model of an old tree-masted ship under full sail, said in the brochure accompanying the coins to be "similar to those in which the Colonists crossed the ocean." Choice of all these devies reflects the event commemorated, though to deduce the connections would require a fair knowledge of local history. Ralegh (1552-1618) held letters patent from Queen Elizabeth authorizing him to explore "remote heathen and barbarous lands." Accordingly, he out-fitted two ships (evidently represented by the two on the reverse of the half dollar) to scout out possible locales for settlements along the Atlantic coast of North America. Ralegh's people selected Roanoke Island partly because it was near to Spanish Florida, partly because the local Indians were friendly; Her Majesty named it Virginia.
Local Celebration at old Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island, sponsored by a variety of civic groups and "historical associations," August 1937, Act o