1935 old spanish trail Banner

1935 Old Spanish Trail Half Dollar


 1935 Old Spanish Trail Obverse       1935 Old Spanish Trail Reverse

Click the images above for enhanced view.



To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Cabeza de Vaca’s expedition and the Old Spanish Trail, and fund the work of the El Paso Museum.


Maximum Number Authorized: 10,000 pieces.


Sale Price: $2.00




    Obverse – Lyman William Hoffecker

The head of a cow. Underneath is the name of the explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca.


Online Resource: https://www.history.com/news/stranded-in-the-new-world-the-amazing-odyssey-of-cabeza-de-vaca 


   Reverse – Lyman William. Hoffecker

A Yucca tree in the center of the coin superimposed over a map of the five Gulf States with a line indicating the route taken by Cabeza de Vaca. “OLD SPANISH TRAIL” appears at the top of the coin just inside the border. “EL PASO” is found where the trail supposedly ends and the anniversary date is located at the bottom of the coin. The designer’s initials are near the edge of the coin at the lower right border.


Online Resource: https://www.nps.gov/olsp/index.htm  




10,000  half dollars were struck at the Philadelphia Mint for the public. Distribution of the coins was handled exclusively by L.W. Hoffecker who said that he intended for the coins to only be sold to collectors and not speculators. No examples were returned to the Mint.




  • The head of a cow appears on the coin because at the time the coin was minted, there was no conclusive portrait of Cabeza de Vaca known. Cabeza de Vaca translates to “head of a cow”.

  • Cabeza de Vaca mostly sailed along the Gulf Coast with a limited amount of exploration on foot.

  • Cabeza de Vaca’s journey is not accurately represented on the coin. Today, the Old Spanish Trail refers to a trail in the southwest portion of the United States that includes California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

  • L. W.  Hoffecker designed the coin and later served as President of the American Numismatic Association from 1939-1941.


For more information:


Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States by Anthony J. Swiatek 

KWS Publishers (2012)


Commemorative Coins of the United States Identification and Price Guide by Anthony J. Swiatek

Amos Press Publishers (2001)


A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca by Randres Resendez

Published by Basic Books (2009)




Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States by Anthony J. Swiatek

KWS Publishers (2012)


The Encyclopedia of United States Silver & Gold Commemorative Coins 1892 to 1954 by Anthony Swiatek and Walter Breen


Arco Publishing, Inc. (1981)



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