Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 10,000
Catalog: KM-163
Obverse Designer: Juliette May Fraser & Chester Beach
Reverse Designer: Juliette May Fraser & Chester Beach
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $5.15 (11/25/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1928 HAWAII 50C MS obverse 1928 HAWAII 50C MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

The Hawaiian Islands were untouched by western civilization until Captain James Cook chanced upon the island chain in 1778 during a voyage across the Pacific. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Cook’s discovery of the islands, the people of Hawaii sought a commemorative coin which would help raise revenue to form a collection of Cook memorabilia in the then-territory’s archive. Legislation authorizing the minting of up 10,000 pieces was approved on March 7th, 1928.

Before the bill even passed, designs had already been submitted to the Fine Arts Commission by Juliette May Fraser, a well-known artist from Honolulu. The coin was modeled from her designs by sculptor Chester Beach. Their obverse features a left-facing bust of Cook. To Cook's left are the words CAPT. JAMES COOK DISCOVERER OF HAWAII, along with a tiny compass pointing north, signifying that he was looking due west toward the mid-Pacific region. Two statutory inscriptions, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and IN GOD WE TRUST, appear at the top and right-hand side, respectively. The value HALF DOLLAR hugs the lower rim, with eight small pyramids—four on each side—representing Hawaii's eight largest volcanic islands.

The coin's reverse depicts a native warrior chief attaining the top of a hill, a metaphor for Hawaii's rise from obscurity. He is clad in a feather cloak and holds a barbed spear. His hand is extended in welcome, showing that his intentions are peaceful. A coconut tree behind him denotes romance, while the landscape in the distance represents part of Waikiki Beach, with Diamond Head looking down on a row of grass huts. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is at the lower left, and the dual dates 1778-1928 are along the base, again in wavy characters symbolic of the sea.

The coins were scarce from the beginning, and even with a record-high issue price of $2 each, buyers eagerly snapped up the entire mintage. Plans to sell half the coins to buyers in Hawaii and half on the mainland were dashed when most of the coins were purchased by Hawaiians. With a beautiful design and very limited mintage for the type, the Hawaiian commemorative half dollars are on of the most expensive coins of the series across all grades.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 4/21/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1928 HAWAII 50C MS
Base $ - - 525 875 1350 1600 1650 1750 2075 2550 2700 2850 3400 5250 8000 60000 - - -
$ 1475 - - 1900 2200 - - 3000 4300 6750 13500 - -

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Total Graded: 1680
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67

Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
12/6/2015 MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2015 December 3 - 6 Houston Money Show US Coins Signature Auction - Houston Session(2), 1227/Lot# 4030
12/6/2015 MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2015 December 3 - 6 Houston Money Show US Coins Signature Auction - Houston Session(2), 1227/Lot# 4026
12/6/2015 MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2015 December 3 - 6 Houston Money Show US Coins Signature Auction - Houston Session(2), 1227/Lot# 4025

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
1/7/2000 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2000 F.U.N. Signature Sale #218, 218/Lot# 7372 $4,025.00
11/19/2006 NGC MS 63   Teletrade Auction 2288, 2288/Lot# 2315 $3,584.00
7/31/2008 NGC MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 270, 276/Lot# 5138 $4,801.25
9/6/2009 NGC MS 64   Goldberg September 6-8, 2009 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 54/Lot# 1529 $2,760.00
8/11/2011 NGC MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2011 August Chicago Signature US Coin & Platinum Night Auction Session(3), 1158/Lot# 4977 $2,760.00
2/28/2012 PCGS   Stack's Bowers The March 2012 Baltimore Auction, 135/Lot# 8755 $1,437.50
10/6/2013 PCGS MS 66   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 10/06/2013, 95/Lot# 136785 $7,208.30
  PCGS MS 64   Bonhams $2,340.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1928 HAWAII 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 66
Points: 5817
Owner: Chippewa
Grade: MS 66
Points: 4801
Owner: Gregg Bingham
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