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US 50 cents commemorative coins

Alabama Centennial half dollar

Code : KM# 148.2








The Alabama Centennial Half Dollar was released in 1921 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the admission of the State of Alabama into the Union. This coin was the first ever created by the Mint to carry a living person’s portrait.

The obverse of the coin features jugate busts of Bibb, Alabama''s first governor as a state, and the incumbent in 1919, Kilby. In so appearing, Kilby became the first living person depicted on a U.S. coin. Anthony Swiatek, in his volume on commemoratives, averred that theissuance was not controversial at the time, as the Act of May 16, 1866, that forbids the depiction of living people on currency was deemed to refer to paper money only, but Q. David Bowers wrote that the portrayal caused contemporary comment, for the position of the federal government (excepting some paper money issues of the 19th century) was that living people should not appear on U.S. money. A total of 22 stars flank the busts, symbolic of Alabama being the 22nd state. The date, the names of the governors, and various other wordings appear towards the rim of the obverse.

The reverse features an eagle, possessing arrows and a shield, but no olive branch to symbolically counter the instruments of war; matched branches and arrows are often present inheraldic depiction of eagles on coins. The eagle''s beak holds an end of a ribbon on which is inscribed the Alabama state motto, "HERE WE REST" about which Swiatek and Breen, in their 1988 book jibed, "no pun intended about the sleepy Deep South".


Laura Gardin Fraser.