Roanoke Island, North Carolina half dollar

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Roanoke Island, North Carolina half dollar
United States
Value50 cents (0.50 US dollars)
Mass12.5 g
Diameter30.61 mm
Thickness2.15 mm (0.08 in)
  • 90.0% silver
  • 10.0% copper
Silver0.36169 troy oz
Years of minting1937
Mint marksNone, all pieces struck at Philadelphia Mint without mint mark.
Roanoke colony half dollar commemorative obverse.jpg
DesignWalter Raleigh
DesignerWilliam Marks Simpson
Design date1937
Roanoke colony half dollar commemorative reverse.jpg
DesignEllinore Dare holding her child, Virginia Dare
DesignerWilliam Marks Simpson
Design date1937

The Roanoke Island, North Carolina half dollar was designed by William M. Simpson and minted in 1937 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of Roanoke Colony, also known as the "Lost Colony" when all of its colonists mysteriously vanished. The obverse depicts Sir Walter Raleigh, and the reverse features Ellinore Dare with her child Virginia Dare along with two sailing ships and a pine branch.


The Roanoke Colony Memorial Association, formed in 1935 in honor of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Roanoke Colony, petitioned Congress for a commemorative coin to be struck honoring the event. The legislation authorizing the coin passed in June 24, 1936, and authorized a maximum of 25,000 half dollars to be struck the following year, although no later than July 1, in commemoration of both the Roanoke Colony and Virginia Dare, the first child of English descent born in the Americas.[1]


William Marks Simpson, who had previous designed the Norfolk, Virginia, Bicentennial half dollar, was hired by the mint to design the coin. Simpson would go on to design another commemorative later that year, the Battle of Antietam half dollar.[1] Two sets of models were produced by Simpson, with the set initially receiving approval by the Federal Commission of Fine Arts. However, the second set came about from minor changes suggested by fellow sculptor Lee Lawrie. Simpson's designs were approved by the commission on December 12, 1936, although his older spelling of "Ralegh" was changed to the more modern "Raleigh".[2]

As the legislation for the coin stated that no coins could be struck after July 1, 50,030 coins were struck in two batches, with the odd 30 coins being reserved for assay purposes.[2] The first 25,015 coins were struck in January, followed by 25,015 more in June.


The Association sold the coins for $1.65 each. Although most were sold by mail, some were likely to have been sold during the August 1937 celebration at Old Fort Riley.[2] Despite selling better than many other contemporary commemoratives, a significant portion of the total coins minted was returned for melting, with 29,030 being sold.[3]


  1. ^ a b "1937 Roanoke 50C MS Silver Commemoratives". www.ngccoin.com. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "US Roanoke Colony Half Dollar Commemorative History". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  3. ^ "1937 Roanoke Half Dollar Commemorative Coin". Retrieved 18 April 2019.

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