Only because of some of the Federal Fine Arts Commission's correspondence do we even know which side of this incredibly crowded design was meant to be the obverse (it turned out to be that with the eagle, contrary to the usual practice in U.S. coins). This eagle is superimposed on the Lone Star, in reference to Texas as the Lone Star State. The oak branch with enormous acorns in his claws was a laurel branch in the original models. No reason for the change has been forthcoming. (If they wished a tree representing Texas, the economically worthless but extremely common mesquite would have been more appropriate.) The six stars flanking HALF DOLLAR probably allude to the six flags which have at various times flown over Texas (the flags themselves from part of the confusion on revers). We are unable even to guess why the hyphens are in UNITED-STATES-OF-AMERICA.
As for the reverse, the problem is to know where to being in making sense out of this jumble. Miss Winged Victory of 1934 holds an olive branch in her right hand while her left rests on a miniature replica of the Alamo, the historic burnt-out church in Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, which figured so largely in the Revolution of 1835-1836. (It was fortified, occupied by revolutionaries in December 1835 and besieged by the Mexican army under General Santa Ana on February 24 - March 6, 1836. There, 187 defenders, including Jem Bowie and Davy Crockett, died in combat. REMEMBER THE ALAMO (at bottom) became a battle cry when General Sam Houston routed Santa Ana at San Jacinto on April 21, spelling victory and independence for the Republic of Texas.)
Above Miss Victory's wings are the six flags which have flown over Texas, those of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic, the United States and the Confederacy. Their folds show, though not details of devices to enable any one flag to be identified. Behind and below the flags are clouds; within the clouds, below wings, are two medallions representing General Sam Houston (at observer's left) and Stephen F. Austin, with their microscopic names. Below the model of the Alamo are the centennial dates. As the Mint Act of April 1792 still requires the word LIBERTY to appear on all U.S. coins, this word is placed on a scroll partly obscuring the flags. There is even room for the mintmark D (for Denver) or S (for San Francisco) below Miss Victory's drapery and just above T of THE; there is also room for the designer's initials PC (Pompeo Coppini) at right of the Alamo.
As a monumental relief, perhaps 30 feet in diameter, meant to be viewed from hundreds of feet away, this design might be impressive to people to whom the heroic history of Texas and the Old West still means anything. On a coin, it is impossibly confusing,, and the way many of these half dollars were struck, it is often indistinct or even illegible.
The American Legion Texas Centennial Committee planned a Texas sized Centennial Exposition for 1936, correctly anticipating millions of visitors, (It occupied 186 acres in Dallas, cost $25,000,000, and attracted some 7,000,000 visitors). For anything this size, advance funding was essential, and one obvious answer was commemorative coinage, preferably on a large scale, after the manner of the Oregon issue, which had already come out in several different date varieties and was expected to appear in any more.
The Legion Committee's friend in Congress, Rep. William Doddridge McFarlane, pushed and talked and promised and compromised until the bill was voted into law, becoming the Act of June 15, 1933. For the benefit of officialdom, Rep. McFarlane said that any profits accruing from sale of the coins would go towards constructing a memorial building. The Fine Arts Commission approved Coppini's revised models on June 25, the Treasury following suit a few days later, after which the models went to the Medallic Art Company of New York for reduction to half dollar size. The Philadelphia Mint struck the first batches in October and November 1934, and the coins went on sale at $1 apiece through the American Legion Texas Centennial Committee.
About 60 percent, possibly more, of all dates and mints of the Texas issue come weakly struck in centers, the parts most effected being Miss Victory's breasts (which then look unequally flat), hand, parts of branch and drapery at thigh and knee. Collectors unfamiliar with this problem are apt to reject these coins as less than full mint state. The illustrations show plainly where the local weaknesses are found (they are directly apposite the eagle's breast, a detail of maximal relief on this coin). As many of the 1934 issue went to the general public, they have been recovered in recent years in less than full mint state, though they are apt to show nicks and scratches, or poor cleaning, or both, rather than ordinary circulation. Naturally, most will be offered sooner or later as mint state, but in view of this peculiarity of striking, collectors are urged to check the surfaces. A true mint state coin will have much the same kind of mint frost on the weakly struck areas as elsewhere, and there will be no signs of scrubbing, even under a strong glass.
Hoards are known. An original mint-sealed sack of the 1934 issue survives in Texas. Individual coins in small lots of the 1934 issue were shipped in unpainted Dennison holders like that pictured for the Maryland. These in general are of no importance as it would be fairly simple to locate that type of holder and insert the coins. However, any original envelopes or accompanying literature would definitely increases historical interest and value.