About 1935/34-S Boone Silver Commemoratives
What are some of the most controversial coins of the entire classic commemorative series spanning from 1892-1954? These coins right here, the 1935/Small 1934 Boone half dollars. Why are these particular coins so noteworthy? Because they symbolize so much of everything that was wrong with the commemorative coin programs of the mid 1930s.
While the Boone half dollars commemorate the 200th anniversary of Daniel Boone’s birth in 1734, these halves were struck long after the bicentennial year of 1934 – until 1938, to be exact. So, the distributor of these coins, Secretary of the Boone Commission Frank C. Dunn, managed to squeak through his proposal to add the 1934 date to the 1935 Boone half dollars. Only a relatively small number of the Denver and San Francisco issues were made with the 1934 small date, and the low-mintage Boone halves were offered for sale in numismatic publications as scarce coins for $3.70 per pair of D- and S-mint coins.
Apparently, Dunn – who was in charge of fulfilling orders – withheld many of these coins from the public, instead issuing a bevy of refunds claiming the scarce coin had sold out. Then, as numismatic interest in these pieces suddenly began rising (along with values for the 1935 Small 1934 Boone halves), Dunn was able to sell the halves he retained for up to $50 a pair. The scheme worked until it didn’t. The whole situation was leaked and became one of the major black marks for the classic commemorative series, a well-intended numismatic program that was, in large part, taken down by acts of greed.
As most of the 1935 Small 1934 Boone half dollars were saved in uncirculated condition, most can be found in decent Mint State grades today. Many are encountered in the MS64-66 range. Examples grading MS67 or better are relatively rare. Most Boone half dollars exhibit excellent surfaces, nice luster, and handsome eye appeal.
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