Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 20,000
Obverse Designer: Cyrus E. Dallin
Reverse Designer: Cyrus E. Dallin
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $6.15 (9/21/2017)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1921 PILGRIM 50C MS obverse 1921 PILGRIM 50C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The Pilgrims were ultra-religious Christians who rejected the Church of England and were therefore viewed as separatists. After fleeing to Holland where they were merely tolerated, they finally got the chance to move somewhere where they were free to practice their religion as they saw fit. In 1620, they set sail for the New World, and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. In honor of the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival, as well as to help fund events honoring them, the Tercentenary Commission sought the striking of 500,000 commemorative half dollars.

While the Commission originally sought this large mintage of half a million coins, Congress only approved a still-generous mintage of 300,000. The Commission selected Boston sculptor Cyrus E. Dallin to design the coin. His obverse depicts a left-facing, half-length figure of William Bradford, the second governor of the Plymouth Colony. He holds in his left arm what is most likely a Bible. Behind his portrait is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, while the legends UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and PILGRIM HALF DOLLAR are arranged peripherally, separated by stars. The reverse is dominated by a three-quarters view of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower sailing on rough seas. The inscription PILGRIM TERCENTENARY CELEBRATION is arranged peripherally. Separated from it by stars are the dual dates 1620—1920.

Unfortunately for the Commission, the coins were not ready until late in the year, well after many of the celebrations they were supposed to help fund had already taken place. By the end of 1920, some 48,000 coins remained of the 200,000 actually struck. The Tercentenary Commission requested that these be melted and re-coined the following year with the new date 1921. This request was granted, and a small “1921” was added to the left obverse field. Only 80,000 coins were struck that year, and the Commission was only able to sell a quarter of them. The remaining 60,000 coins were returned to the mint to be destroyed, which left net mintages of 152,000 for the 1920 issue, and only 20,000 for the 1921. Due to this disparity in mintage, the 1921 issue is much more valuable than the 1920.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 11/30/2016

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

Base $ - - - 95.00 125 160 165 170 175 180 190 205 220 275 470 925 4600 - - -
$ 140 - - - - - - - 240 315 605 1850 8750 -

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Total Graded: 2092
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 64
High Grade: 67

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
8/13/1996 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions 1996 ANA Bullet Sale #160, 160/Lot# 869 $495.00
10/4/1997 NGC MS 66   Heritage Auctions 1997 October Seattle Bullet #174, 174/Lot# 577 $605.00
5/5/2003 PCGS MS 66   Heritage Auctions 2003 May St. Louis, MO (CSNS) Bullet Sale #319, 319/Lot# 2216 $948.75
4/2/2007 NGC MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Spring Collectors Choice Sale', 137/Lot# 1074 $230.00
9/6/2009 PCGS MS 65   Goldberg September 6-8, 2009 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 54/Lot# 2999 $286.00
10/11/2009 PCGS MS 64   Teletrade Auction 2756, 2756/Lot# 1997 $207.00
6/14/2011 NGC MS 66   Stack's Bowers The June 2011 Baltimore Auction, 92/Lot# 5073 $477.25
8/25/2013 PCGS MS 63   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 08/25/2013, 89/Lot# 129557 $154.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1921 PILGRIM 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 67
Points: 4287
Owner: Bruce Young
Grade: MS 67
Points: 4287
Owner: Chippewa
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