Legend Numismatics

HomeUS Coins1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar : A Collector's Guide

1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar : A Collector’s Guide

1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers / Adobe Stock.
1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers / Adobe Stock.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The abuses of the classic commemorative coin era reached full steam in the 1930s as competing promoters pushed Congress to pass one coin bill after another. By this time, requests for multi-year coin bills were becoming commonplace, and the Arkansas Centennial Commission was able to get their multi-coin bill passed on May 14, 1934. The first 10,000 1935 Arkansas Centennial Half Dollars rolled off the presses at the Philadelphia Mint in May 1935 and were sold for $1 each. By September 1935, the stock was exhausted.

Fort Worth, Texas dealer B. Max Mehl, in collaboration with the Commission, ordered the production of 5,500 additional coins to be struck at the Denver and San Francisco Mints. Mehl offered these coins for sale at a premium price of $2.75 (or $5.00 for both). Production of the Arkansas Centennial Half Dollar continued through 1939 with Stack’s of New York handling much of the promotion and distribution.

In 1936, the Arkansas Centennial Commission saw an opportunity to increase the enthusiasm (read: profits) for their coins: new designs. Following the lead of the Texas Centennial Commission, which sought Congressional approval to create five new reverses for its half dollar, the Arkansas Centennial Commission requested authorization to produce three new reverses for its coin. Congress denied the Texas request but did, with the passage of the Act of June 6, 1936 (Public Law 831), authorize one new reverse design for the Arkansas coin (numismatists typically consider the Robinson side the obverse, however).

Who Was Joseph T. Robinson?

The 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar honors Joseph T. Robinson, Governor of Arkansas and 1928 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee. Robinson was born on August 26, 1872, and served as the Senate Majority Leader at the time of the coin’s release. After attending law school at the University of Virginia, Robinson returned to Arkansas, where he won a seat in the state’s General Assembly. In 1903, he was elected to Congress. Robinson was a political progressive and lifelong Democrat. In 1912, Robinson was elected governor of Arkansas but only held the position from January 16 to March 8, 1913. Following the death of Arkansas Senator Jefferson Davis (no relation to the Confederate President), the state legislature elected him to fill the empty seat.

Senator Joseph T. Robinson (right) with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Image: Public Domain / colorized by CoinWeek.
Senator Joseph T. Robinson (right) with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Image: Public Domain / colorized by CoinWeek.

Robinson had presidential aspirations and won the party’s nomination for Vice President in the 1928 Presidential Election, where New York Governor Al Smith was trounced in the Electoral College by Republican Herbert Hoover.

Robinson developed a masterful style in the Senate and was one of the key champions of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’sNew Deal“. His legislative accomplishments directly impacted millions of Americans struggling to get by during the Great Depression.

At the time of the coin’s release, Robinson was still alive, making him the fourth individual to be honored with a United States coin while living. Robinson died on July 14, 1937.

How Many 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollars Were Struck?

Date Business Strikes Assay Coins Proofs No. Melted Net Mintage
1936 25,250 15 8 0 25,250

Congress authorized a mintage of 50,000 pieces, but only half were struck. The entire mintage was struck in January 1937. Stack’s distributed the coins for $1.85 each.

In addition to the 25,250 business strikes, eight Satin-Finish “Proofs” were reportedly struck, with the Arkansas Centennial Commission presenting four to dealer Wayte Raymond. These issues are nearly imperceptible from regular strikes but were allegedly made using specially prepared dies with one press blow at increased pressure. Two were earmarked for President Roosevelt and Senator Robinson.

Robinson Half Dollar presentation case. Image: Stack's Bowers.
Robinson Half Dollar presentation case. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

According to commemorative coin specialist Anthony Swiatek, the Satin-Finish Proofs were presented in black leather-grained presentation cases, like the one seen above. Stack’s Bowers sold this particular coin and case at a June 2023 auction but remarked that the coin appeared to be a circulation strike issue. The bidders felt differently, as interest in the piece was so significant that the coin and box sold for $6,600.

How Much Are 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollars Worth?

The 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar was not intended for circulation as a commemorative half dollar sold at a premium. However, some of these entered circulation and show various degrees of wear, while others show signs of collector mishandling, such as cleaning or environmental damage. Circulated and impaired coins sell for discounted prices, although there is some interest in assembling sets of honestly circulated classic commemorative coins for a segment of commemorative coin collectors.

In Mint State, the 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar is plentiful in the grades MS64 to MS66, but even well-preserved coins vary in quality. Luster will run the gamut from brilliant to dull, although most exhibit a frosty appearance. Before distribution, many of the coins of this issue were marked up to some degree. Most undipped examples exhibit subpar toning, even in high grades. Nearly every coin that is blast white in 2024 has been dipped at some point to remove tarnish. In our survey of the upper-end examples, we find that are very few PQ rainbow-toned coins.

Through the grade MS65, the 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar is affordable, with examples selling for between $100 and $120 on average. MS66 coins provide a good value and sell for only twice this amount. In MS67, prices increase to $1,000 or more. In our opinion, MS66 coins with great eye appeal are a better buy than the run-of-the-mill MS67 piece with mottled or dark toning. However, your collecting goals will dictate which coin is right for you.

The most money paid at auction for a 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar is $20,700 for Bruce Scher’s PCGS MS68 example. That price level was achieved in 2005 and we believe the coin would sell for less money today.

* * *

Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Stack's Robinson Presentation Case. Image: Stack's Bowers.
Stack’s Robinson Presentation Case. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Wayte Raymond is said to have purchased a large quantity of Robinson halves and once approached dealer Abe Kosoff to see if he would buy 8,000 of them from him at 70¢ each. It turns out that Raymond was charged 60¢ each for the coins that Stack’s couldn’t sell. Kosoff says New York City collector Elliot Smith had financed the Stack’s deal. Kosoff sold the coins in 200-coin lots for $1.10 each and sold 1,000 pieces to Howard MacIntosh of the Tatham Company.

In he December 1947 issue of The Numismatist, dealer Earl C. School of Detroit, Michigan placed a want ad for commemorative half dollars, where he posted a buy price of $1.40 for a Brilliant Uncirculated 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar. In that same issue, fellow Detroit dealer R. Bart Holmes offered examples for sale for $1.75, as did dealer Henry Grunthal of New York.

In a December 1974 Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine ad, dealers Frank J. and Laurene Katen of Silver Spring, Maryland, offered brilliant uncirculated examples of the 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar for $85 each.

In a two-page ad published in the October 1976 issue of The Numismatist, dealer Joel Rettew offered Gem BU examples of the 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar for $85 each.

Top PopulationPCGS MS68 (1, 5/2023), NGC MS68 (2, 5/2024), and CAC MS67 (44:0 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

The PCGS MS68 population of one has been constant since at least 1998.

  • NGC MS68 #4877577-001: As PCGS MS67. “The Tom Valos Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 27, 2002, Lot 8192 – $4,887.50. As NGC MS68 #4877577-001. Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2019, Lot 4491 – $7,200. Iridescent gold, violet and green toning on the obverse.
  • PCGS MS68 #21765171: As PCGS MS68 #5291479. Heritage Auctions, July 27, 2002, Lot 5100 – $14,375. As PCGS MS68 #21765171. “The Bruce Scher #1 All-Time PCGS Registry Set,” Heritage Auctions, February 24, 2005, Lot 4177 – $20,700. Top pop, pop one coin. Scattered orange and green toning.
  • NGC MS67+ #6612581-001: Heritage Auctions, July 23, 2023, Lot 7487 – $1,500. Hazy russet and ice blue toning.
  • NGC MS67+ #6325769-006: Stack’s Bowers, November 3, 2022, Lot 8297 – $1,440. Iridescent surfaces with goldenrod toning around the obverse periphery.
  • NGC MS67+ #5742557-012: Heritage Auctions, January 24, 2021, Lot 7517 – $1,447.20; Heritage Auctions, June 20, 2021, Lot 7303 – $1,740. Scattered russet toning on the obverse and reverse.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #09834256: As PCGS MS67 CAC #9834256. Stack’s Bowers, June 19, 2020, Lot 1518 – $1,320. Heritage Auctions, January 22, 2021, Lot 4415 – $4,560. Upgraded 1/2 point. Red and gold toning around the periphery and wisps of toning on Robinson’s jaw.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #50131276: “The Five Generations of Eby Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2019, Lot 6199 – $1,800.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #25607260: As NGC MS66 #238525-003. Heritage Auctions, January 12, 2002, Lot 8875 – $1,725. As PCGS MS67 #18466068. Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2015, Lot 6672 – $3,290. Upgraded 1 point. As PCGS MS67+ CAC #25607260. Heritage Auctions, July 7, 2017, Lot 4395 – $5,522.50. Upgraded 1/2 point. Darkly toned on both sides.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #4721059: Stack’s Bowers, June 15, 2022, Lot 2272 – $1,440. Faint toning around the periphery.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #43206145: As PCGS MS67 CAC #39327808. “The Fort Lee Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 25, 2021, Lot 9845 – $1,440. Faint toning around the periphery. Since this sale, the coin has been recertified by PCGS.
  • NGC MS67 CAC #6060528-005: Heritage Auctions, August 15, 2021, Lot 91265 – $1,020. Gold and orange toning on both sides.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #6557328: Stack’s Bowers, June 11, 2021, Lot 2643 – $2,040. A smattering of mottled toning.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #1577025: Heritage Auctions, July 12, 2019, Lot 3981 – $1,380.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #9730333: Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2019, Lot 4489 – $1,320.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #35683666: “The Cedar Crest Collection, Part I,” Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2019, Lot 4490 – $2,400. Iridescent light green toning on the obverse. Hints of rose toning as well.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #4282310: Stack’s Bowers, October 25, 2018, Lot 1633 – $4,080. Satiny surfaces, darkly toned with gold, olive, red, and green toning.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #34604639: Heritage Auctions, August 19, 2018, Lot 8290 – $2,040. Mostly brilliant, with orange toning at the bottom of the obverse rim.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #83157034: Heritage Auctions, June 9, 2017, Lot 4529 – $1,527.50Crescent golden orange toning along the obverse left periphery.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #31514251: Heritage Auctions, September 7, 2016, Lot 3262 – $1,410.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #25384247: “The Rolling Thunder 50 Piece Commemorative Collection,” Heritage Auctions, September 18, 2015, Lot 5423 – $940. Iridescent orange and green toning in scattered areas.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #50068659: Heritage Auctions, April 25, 2014, Lot 5988 – $2,232.50. Crescent golden orange toning along the obverse left periphery.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #1606004: Heritage Auctions, November 30, 2012, Lot 4561 – $1,880. Dark russet toning at the bottom of the obverse. Light toning on K or ARKANSAS.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #35685450: As NGC MS67 CAC #400374-005. Heritage Auctions, October 19, 2012, Lot 5211 – $1,527.50. Scattered russet toning. Since this sale, this coin has been recertified.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC: Stack’s Bowers, August 7, 2012, Lot 9727 – $7,637.50. Orange and red allover toning on the obverse. Orange and red tab toning on the reverse.

* * *

Design

Obverse:

A right-facing portrait of Senator Joseph T. Robinson. Robinson’s portrait dominates much of the available canvas. Wrapping around the inside of the rim is the inscription ARKANSAS CENTENNIAL 1836-1936. LIBERTY appears in small font off of Robinson’s neck to the left. JOSEPH T. ROBINSON appears under Robinson’s chin to the right. Artist Henry Kreis’ initial “K” appears next to the rim at 5 o’clock.

Reverse:

In the forefront, an eagle with spread wings stands on the sun and clutches a ribbon in its mouth that reads IN GOD WE TRUST and E PLURIBUS UNUM. On the globe are the inscriptions HALF DOLLAR and the date 1936. Above the eagle is the lozenge-shaped symbol from the Arkansas flag, as adopted in 1924. The top star above the word ARKANSAS directly references Arkansas’ admission into the Confederate States of America. The three stars below represent the three countries that Arkansas has belonged to: Spain, France, and the United States. The Daughters of the Confederacy was involved in the designing of this flag.

Edge:

The edge of the 1936 Arkansas Robinson Half Dollar is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1936
Denomination: Half Dollar (50 Cents USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 25,265 + 8 Satin Proofs
Alloy: .900 silver, .100 copper
Weight: 12.5 g
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Henry Kreis, modeled by Enid Bell
REV Designer: Edward Everett Burr, modeled by Emily Bates
Quality: Business Strike + Proof

 

* * *

Sources

Kosoff, Abe. Abe Kosoff Remembers. 1981. 13

Taxay, Don. An Illustrated History of U.S. Commemorative Coinage. Arco. 147.

Swiatek, Anthony. “The Orphan Issue”, The Numismatist. ANA. August 1993.

* * *

CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stacks Bowers Auction

L and C COIN Specials

Doug Winter Numismatics Branch Mint Gold