Coin Specifications

Category: Silver Commemoratives (1892-1954)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 10,000
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: $6.31 (10/16/2019)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1928 HAWAII 50C MS obverse 1928 HAWAII 50C MS reverse
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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: 7/1/2019

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

1928 HAWAII 50C MS
Base $ - - 650 925 1380 1550 1650 1700 2100 2200 2250 2300 2450 2950 3750 7250 40500 - - -
$ 1450 - - 1900 2125 - - - 2600 3350 4500 10250 60000 -

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Total Graded: 1688
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67

The chart showing VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series, 67 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 10/8/2019 1928 HAWAII 50C MS
 ----0 %-0 %0 %0 %1 %1 %0 %1 %9 %18 %43 %21 %4 %0 %--- 

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/29/2007 NGC MS 66   David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 199, 205/Lot# 9425 $6,670.00
12/9/2007 PCGS MS 62   Teletrade Auction 2460, 2460/Lot# 1705 $3,136.00
9/6/2009 NGC Details UNC Details  Goldberg September 6-8, 2009 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 54/Lot# 1544 $1,552.50
5/30/2010 PCGS Genuine Genuine   Bonhams Coins, Medals, and Banknotes, 18301/Lot# 1616 $1,287.00
8/18/2013 PCGS MS 64   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 08/18/2013, 88/Lot# 129644 $3,135.00
3/28/2014 PCGS MS 64   Stack's Bowers March 2014 Baltimore Auction, 6008/Lot# 6074 $4,112.50
4/4/2017 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2017 April 4 - 6 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(3), 1253/Lot# 16536 $3,055.00
9/7/2017 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2017 September 7 - 10 Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(4), 1259/Lot# 5099 $3,120.00
2/22/2018 PCGS Genuine UNC   Heritage Auctions 2018 February 22 - 26 LB Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(7), 1272/Lot# 9349 $900.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1928 50C MS HAWAII
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 66
Points: 5817
Owner: Chippewa
Grade: MS 65
Points: 4048
Owner: Alex J. Llorente
View the Registry Image Gallery

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