This souvenir issue marked the 100th anniversary of the admission of Arkansas into the Union. Edward Everett Burr designed the piece, and models were prepared by Emily Bates of Arkansas. Although 1936 was the centennial year, the first of several issues was brought out in 1935 from all three mints. The 1936 through 1939 issues were the same as those of 1935 except for the dates. They were sold by the distributors at $8.75 per set of three coins. The reverse shows accolated heads of an Indian chief of 1836 and an American girl of 1935. During 1936, a second design was authorized by Congress. Senator Joseph T. Robinson consented to have his portrait placed on the reverse side of the coins, which were struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
A new reverse design for the Arkansas Centennial coin was authorized by the Act of June 26, 1936. Senator Joseph T. Robinson, still living at the time his portrait was used, was the subject for the new issue engraved by Henry Kreis. The obverse, designed by Everett Burr, was unchanged. The law specified a change in the reverse, because of the fact that the obverse side is that which bears the date. From a numismatic viewpoint, however, the side that has the portrait is usually considered the obverse. Thus, in this instance, the side with the eagle device is often considered the reverse.