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David Hall: The 1921 Alabama half dollar (both types) is one of the rarer silver commemorative issues in Gem condition and has long been considered one of the key issues in the series. However, there is some controversy with the issue. First of all, the coin commemorates the 100th anniversary of Alabama statehood, but the anniversary was in 1919 and Alabama half dollars were struck in 1921. Second, the original mintages of both types of Alabamas are subject to some dispute.
Let's talk about the two types of Alabama commemoratives. Some Alabamas were struck with a "2x2" in the right side of the obverse field, the "2x2" representing the fact that Alabama was the 22nd state admitted to the Union. The 2x2s were the first Alabamas minted, with 6006 examples sruck on October, 1921. In December, some 64,000 Alabamas were struck without the "2x2" in the right obverse field, or so the story goes. Then later in Decmber, an additional 10,008 Alabamas were struck which again had the "2x2" in the obverse field, or so the story goes. At various times and in various reference works, the mintage of the "plain" Alabama has been listed at 54,030...64,038...and 59,038. And supposedly 5,000 or so pieces may have been melted as unsold. The mintage of the Alabama "2x2" variety has been listed as 6,000...10,008...and 15,014.
Because the Alabama 2x2 mintage has always been listed as considerably lower than the Alabama "plain", the 2x2 traditionally has sold for more than the 'plain," especially in lower grades. But the fact is that in the coin market, both of these varieties of the Alabama commemorative half dollar are about equal in rarity. There seems to be little difference in the number of survivors, so the logical conclusion is that about the same number were originally minted and the orginal mintages figures are mistaken.
The Alabama without the "2x2" variety is a scarce coin in circulated condition and one of the rarer silver commemoratives in Gem condition. The average grade of survivors is MS62 to MS64. The Alabama generally has frosty luster, though there are many examples with various types of toning ranging from gorgeous rainbow colors to dark, dingy and ugly. Obviously the white frosty Gems and the beautifuly toned Gems are the coins to buy.
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