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: $6.23 (10/20/2017)
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: 8/16/2016

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

1928 HAWAII 50C MS
Base $ - - 525 875 1350 1600 1650 1750 2075 2450 2550 2700 2850 3400 5250 8000 50000 - - -
$ 1475 - - 1900 2200 - - - 3000 4300 6750 13500 - -

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Total Graded: 1673
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67

Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/3/2017 UNC Details  Heritage Auctions 2017 November 1 & 3 Eric P. Newman Collection Part IX US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(2), 1260/Lot# 15476
11/4/2017 UNC Details  Heritage Auctions 2017 November 2 - 4 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(3), 1261/Lot# 17617

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
12/19/1999 NGC MS 64   Teletrade Auction 1249, 1249/Lot# 1428 $2,160.00
1/12/2005 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2005 Ft. Lauderdale FL. (FUN) Signature Sale #360, 360/Lot# 10622 $3,737.50
5/30/2010 PCGS Genuine Genuine   Bonhams Coins, Medals, and Banknotes, 18301/Lot# 1616 $1,287.00
1/30/2011 NGC Details UNC Details  Goldberg January 30 - February 3, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 62/Lot# 1874 $1,552.50
6/23/2013 PCGS MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 757, 766/Lot# 344 $2,650.00
3/16/2014 PCGS MS 64   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/16/2014, 172/Lot# 146722 $3,135.00
3/21/2014 NGC MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2014 March 21 & 23 US Coins Signature Auction - San Francisco Session(2), 1198/Lot# 10923 $2,820.00
4/23/2014 PCGS Genuine Genuine   Heritage Auctions 2014 April 23 - 27 CSNS US Coin Signature Auction - Chicago Session(9), 1204/Lot# 11597 $1,468.75
8/13/2015 NGC MS 62   Stack's Bowers 2015 Chicago ANA, 6104/Lot# 1417 $1,659.10

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
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