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FLOWING HAIR HALF DOLLARS (1794-1795)

1794 Half Dollar

1794 Half Dollar

1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar - The Flowing Hair half dollar was the first design for the denomination. Half dimes and silver dollars used the same motif. Often half dollars are collected by die variety, of which there are many. They are listed by Overton numbers in his book Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836. Because of its low mintage of 23,464, its desirability as the first silver half dollar coin, the 1794 issue is extremely scarce. PGCS has certified 416 pieces and NGC has 298 listed, and these numbers do not account for crossovers or resubmissions. Twelve varieties are listed for the date by PCGS.

Since neither Chief Coiner Henry Voigt, nor Assayer Albion Cox could post the $10,000 bond required for handing the precious metals for their respective positions, copper coin was made in the Mint’s first year of 1793. Thomas Jefferson wrote to President Washington on December 10th of that year requesting that the bond requirement be reduced. Washington agreed to persuade Congress, and the bond amount was lowered in the Act of March 3, 1794. When silver was deposited, the new Engraver Robert Scot had to complete punches and dies for the new coins. Adam Eckfeldt, a Mint worker and later second Chief Coiner, helped Scot make a copy of the large cent Liberty head to be used for the half dollar’s obverse and an eagle for the reverse. Letters, numbers, stars, and leaf punches were also made. On December 1, 1794, approximately 5,300 pieces were made. In January 1795, another 18,000 were produced using the 1794 dies. Using old dies in the next years became a rather common practice in the Mint to save the expense of making new ones.

By law the silver half dollar had to carry a design “emblematic of Liberty.” To implement this requirement, Scot designed a right-facing profile portrait of a youthful female whose hair flowed behind her. The flowing hair was supposed to symbolize freedom. The word LIBERTY is above her head, and the date is below. Between the date and LIBERTY are 15 stars, for the number of states in the Union. Eight stars are to the left and seven are to the right. The reverse shows a small eagle with its wings spread. It is perched on a rock and within a wreath of laurel. The border has the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The denomination FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR, with decorations between the words, is on the edge of the coin.

Specifications:
Designer: Robert Scot
Weight: 13.48 grams
Composition: .8924 silver, .1076 copper
Diameter: approximately 32.5 mm
Edge: FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR with decorations between


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1794 Half Dollar - 1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar
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