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LIBERTY SEATED HALF DOLLARS (1839-1891)

Seated Half Dollars

Liberty Seated Half Dollars - Christian Gobrecht designed the Seated Liberty Half Dollars. The obverse of the Liberty Seated Half Dollars depicts Liberty seated looking over her shoulder to the left. She balances the Union Shield inscribed LIBERTY with her right hand and holds a staff on which is placed a Phrygian cap in her left. There are seven stars to the left and six to the right interrupted by her head and the capped pole. The dated is below. The reverse shows the heraldic eagle looking left. It is surrounded by the required inscription and the denomination written as HALF DOL. below. Dentils are around the periphery of both sides of the Seated Liberty half dollar.

There were five varieties of the Seated Liberty Half Dollars. Type 1, 1839-1853 and 1856-1866 (resumed with weight standard of Type 2) has no motto above the eagle. It weighed 13.36 grams. Type 2, 1853, added rays around the eagle to indicate the change in weight to 12.44 grams. Type 3, 1854-1855, had the rays removed but arrows added to each side of the date. The weight remained the same. Type 4, 1866-1873 and 1875-1891 (resumed with weight standard of Type 5) had the motto IN GOD WE TRUST added to a banner above the eagle. The arrows at the date were removed. Type 5, 1873-1874, had the arrows at the date added back to show the change in weight to 12.50 grams.

There were also several varieties of the Seated Liberty half dollar. In 1839 the drapery was modified to cover more of Liberty’s left arm. The varieties are No Drapery and Drapery. Both Small and Medium letters are found for the 1840 issue. The next Red Book variety was made in 1842. There were Small Date and Small Letters and Small Date with Large Letters. The New Orleans Mint for that year made a Small Date with Small Letters also and a Medium date with Large letters. A doubled date is found in 1844-O. Excessive die polishing caused the 1845-O to have Drapery and No Drapery. The Philadelphia issues of 1846 had a Medium Date, a Tall Date, and a 6 over a Horizontal 6. Medium and Tall dates are found for 1846-O, and 1847 has a 7 over 6 overdate. A very rare 1853-O Type 1 (no arrows) exists. Only 3 specimens are known. An overdate was made in 1855 that shows the numerals 854 under the normal date.

In 1861 the New Orleans Mint used a federal die obverse and a CSA reverse to strike a few CSA half dollars. This same obverse die was also paired with a regular federal reverse to strike some 1861-O half dollars. They can be identified by a die crack that runs from to the right of the sixth star down to Liberty’s nose and shoulder. Both the No Motto and With Motto coins were made in San Francisco in 1866. The new dies that had the With Motto reverse did not arrive in time so an older die was used in the first group of coins struck for that year. Close and Open 3’s were found in 1873. Carson City and San Francisco made both Type 4 and 5 coins for that year. Another overdate was made in 1877 with a 7 seen over a 6. Just the top portion of the 6 is visible over the upper part of the last 7.

Mintages of the Seated Liberty half dollar range from a low of 4,400 in both 1882 and 1884 to a high of 8,418,000 in 1876. Mint records show a No Arrows half dollar for 1873-S with a mintage of 5,000; however, none are known to exist today.

Specifications:
Weight: 13.36 (1839-1853), 12.44 (1853), 12.50 (1873-1891)
Composition: .900 silver, .100 copper
Diameter: 30.6 millimeters
Edge: Reeded

Half Dollars


NO MOTTO ON REVERSE (1839-1866)
DATE NOTES
1839 Half Dollar The variety without drapery at Liberty's elbow is worth 2-10 times the variety with drapery.
1840 Half Dollar One interesting variety was struck at the New Orleans Mint using a reverse of 1838 without a mintmark!
1840-O Half Dollar Look for sm., med., & lg. mintmark; med. very rare.
1841 Half Dollar Scarce with first 1 repunched. Other variety: repunched 8.
1841-O Half Dollar Narrow and round interior space to O.
1842 Half Dollar The date comes in small and medium versions and the reverse comes with small and large letters.
1842-O Half Dollar These come with Small Date and Small Letters (Reverse of 1839) or Medium Date and Large Letters (Reverse of 1842).
1843 Half Dollar Double date scarce; some show minor repunching on 4 or 43.
1843-O Half Dollar Double date; look for rare variety with very thin numerals.
1844 Half Dollar Partly repunched date on 18 and also on 44.
1844-O Half Dollar The double date variety has the original date cut way too high into the die.
1845 Half Dollar Traces of repunching on date.
1845-O Half Dollar One scarce variety is lacks the drapery at Liberty's elbow because of over-zealous polishing of the die.
1846 Half Dollar Look for the rare 1846/5 overdate. Date sizes vary and one interesting variety had the 6 of the date punched into the die horizontally, then corrected.
1846-O Half Dollar Date sizes vary; the "Tall" date is the tougher one.
1847 Half Dollar Look for the very rare 1847/6 overdate.
1847-O Half Dollar Heavy date; repunching on 4; Thin numerals; Double date, very rare.
1848 Half Dollar Open 4 – crosslet small and distant from base; Closed 4 – very rare; Closed 4, repunched 18 – very rare.
1848-O Half Dollar Look for Open and Closed 4; Large and small O.
1849 Half Dollar Look for two double dates one to the left and one to the right; partially repunched date.
1849-O Half Dollar Many varieties from 12 pairs of dies.
1850 Half Dollar Closed 5 – line joins knob to cusp of 5; Open 5 – very rare.
1850-O Half Dollar Closed 5; Open 5 – Partial Drapery; Open 5 – No Drapery, extremely rare.
1851 Half Dollar Look for repunched 851 – rare; top of extra 1 between 51 – rare.
1851-O Half Dollar Look for No Drapery – very rare.
1852 Half Dollar Look for double date punched low – very rare; partly repunched date – rare.
1852-O Half Dollar

Look for partly repunched date – rare.

1853-O Half Dollar

None were reported to have been minted, yet 3 are known.

 

ARROWHEADS AT DATE, RAYS ON REVERSE (1853 ONLY)

DATE NOTES
1853 Half Dollar Look for partly repunched date; double date – rare; doubled reverse die – very rare.
1853-O Half Dollar Look for partly repunched date; blundered 1 – very rare; double date – very rare; No Drapery – very rare.

ARROWHEADS AT DATE, NO RAYS ON REVERSE (1854-1855)

DATE NOTES
1854 Half Dollar Normal date 54 touch; partly repunched date; double date; triple date – very rare; Normal date 54 apart.
1854-O Half Dollar Normal date 54 touch; partly repunched date; double date; triple date – very rare; Lighter date 54 apart – very scarce.
1855 Half Dollar Look for the rare 1855/1854 overdate.
1855-O Half Dollar Final 5 repunched – rare; Repunched 55 – rare; Double date – rare; O over horizontal O – extremely rare.
1855-S Half Dollar No Drapery, Large S.

 

ORIGINAL DESIGN RESTORED (1856-1866)

DATE NOTES
1856 Half Dollar Upright 5 only.
1856-O Half Dollar Look for repunched 56, extra knob on 6; double date.
1856-S Half Dollar Large S only; No Drapery – very rare.
1857 Half Dollar

18 touching or free; blundered date – extremely rare, base of 5 in rocky base above space between 57.

1857-O Half Dollar Double date – rare.
1857-S Half Dollar Large S – rare; Medium S – very scarce.
1858 Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, tops of LF in HALF nearly touch, long closed claws, large arrowheads; Type 1 No Drapery; Type 1 double date – very rare; Type 2 rev. – very rare, tops LF apart, shorter open claws, small arrowheads.
1858-O Half Dollar Type 1 reverse; No Drapery; First Blundered Die – very rare, extra 18 shows above 18, part of another 8 between 58; Second Blundered Die – very rare, lower part of final 8 in rocky base below skirt.
1858-S Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, Medium S – rare.
1859 Half Dollar Type 1 reverse; Type 2 reverse.
1859-O Half Dollar Type 1 reverse; Blundered date – very rare,
1859-S Half Dollar Type 1 reverse; Large S; No Drapery – very rare; Medium S – rare.
1860 Half Dollar Type 1 reverse – extremely rare; Type 2 – common.
1860-O Half Dollar Type 1 reverse – extremely rare; Ty. 2, normal drapery; Ty. 2, No Drapery – rare.
1860-S Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, Large S; Type I reverse Medium S.0
1861 Half Dollar
Type 2 reverse; 1861 Confederate States of America Half Dollar
1861-O Half Dollar
Type 1 reverse – very rare; Type 2 – normal reverse; Type 2, No Drapery – rare; “Cracked Confederate Obverse,” Type 2, some of these were struck under the auspices of the Confederacy using U.S. dies - unfortunately, there's no way to tell them apart. The extremely rare Confederate Half Dollars and the more common Restrikes were separate issues that still deserve mention here.
1861-S Half Dollar  Type 1 reverse, Large S; Type 1 reverse, Medium S – scarce.
1862 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse.
1862-S Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, Large S; Type 1 reverse, Medium S; Type 2 reverse, Small broad S – very rare.
1863 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, Closed 6. Type 2 reverse, Open 6.
1863-S Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, Closed 6, Small broad S.
1864 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, 64 almost touch; Type 2, 64 apart.
1864-S Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, Large S, 64 apart; Type 2, Small broad S, 64 apart; Type 2, Small narrow S, 64 apart; Type 2, Small narrow S, 64 almost touching – very rare.
1865 Half Dollar

Type 2 reverse continuing for rest of series. No Drapery – rare; Double date – rare; Overdate – very rare.

1865-S Half Dollar  Small broad S; Small narrow S.
1866 Half Dollar No Motto The debate continues on whether the 1866 No Motto Half Dollar is a transitional pattern or a clandestine, mint-made fantasy piece. Proof only.
1866-S Half Dollar No Motto Small narrow S, same die used on 1865-S piece.

 

WITH "IN GOD WE TRUST" ON REVERSE (1866-1891)

DATE NOTES
1866 Half Dollar, With Motto Drapery, variation in location of date; No Drapery – rare.
1866-S Half Dollar, With Motto Minute S, often weak, continues until 1871 – very rare choice.
1867 Half Dollar Drapery; No Drapery.
1867-S Half Dollar Minute S; Mintmark leans to the right; Larger S, heavily repunched.
1868 Half Dollar Drapery; Repunched date; No Drapery – rare.
1868-S Half Dollar Drapery; No Drapery – very rare.
1869 Half Dollar Look for base of 1 repunched.
1869-S Half Dollar

Drapery; No Drapery – rare.

1870 Half Dollar Drapery; Repunched 1; No Drapery – rare.
1870-CC Half Dollar This is a very rare and popular date. Drapery; No Drapery – very rare.
1870-S Half Dollar  Drapery; No Drapery.
1871 Half Dollar  71 almost touch; 71 apart – rare.
1871-CC Half Dollar  71 almost touch.
1871-S Half Dollar  71 almost touch, Minute narrow S; 71 almost touch, Minute narrow S, No Drapery – rare (S sometimes very weak); 71 almost touch, Small broad S; 71 apart, Minute narrow S – rare; 71 apart, Small broad S – rare.
1872 Half Dollar  Normal die; Doubled reverse die – rare.
1872-CC Half Dollar  Minor positional variations – rare.
1872-S Half Dollar  Small broad S – rare; Tall narrow S.
1873 Half Dollar No Arrowheads at Date Found with Open and Closed 3's. All of the Proofs are Closed 3's. The Open 3 is extremely rare.
1873-CC Half Dollar No Arrowheads at Date Most were melted, making this an extremely rare issue
1873-S Half Dollar No Arrowheads at Date None of these have ever been seen!

 

ARROWHEADS AT DATE (1873-1874)

DATE NOTES
1873 Half Dollar Long obverse arrows; Short obverse arrows, quadruple obverse stripes – rare; Short obverse arrows, triple obverse stripes – very rare.
1873-CC Half Dollar Long obverse arrows, small round CC; Long obverse arrows, tall boldface CC – rare.
1873-S Half Dollar Long obverse arrows, small broad S – extremely rare; Long obverse arrows, minute S.
1874 Half Dollar Long obverse arrows; Short arrows.
1874-CC Half Dollar Long obverse arrows – rare.
1874-S Half Dollar Long obverse arrows, tall narrow S – very rare; Long obverse arrows, tall narrow double punched S – rare; Small broad S; Small broad double punched S – very rare. Minute S – very rare.

 

 

WITH MOTTO DESIGN RESTORED (1875-1891)

DATE NOTES
1875 Half Dollar Many positional varieties; double date – rare.
1875-CC Half Dollar Small roundish CC; Tall boldface CC – extremely rare.
1875-S Half Dollar Small broad S – very rare; Tall narrow S – very rare; Very small S; Blundered obverse, base of 1 punched at base of rock – very rare.
1876 Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, split berry above H; Type 2 reverse, pointed berry above H.
1876-CC Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, tall bold CC – rare; Type 1 reverse, small CC; Type 1 reverse, smallest roundish CC – scarce; Type 2 reverse.
1876-S Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, very small S – rare; Type 1 reverse, micro S; Type 2 reverse, micro S; Type 2 reverse, very small S over micro S – rare.
1877 Half Dollar Type 1 reverse – extremely rare. Type 2 reverse; Look for the rare 1887/6 overdate.
1877-CC Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, smallest, roundish CC – very rare; Type 1 reverse, small bold CC – very rare; Type 2 reverse, smallest CC – extremely rare; Type 2 reverse, small wide CC – very scarce; Type 2 reverse, small close CC; Type 2 reverse, small close CC, repunched 77.
1877-S Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, small S widely doubled – very rare; Type 1 reverse, small S widely doubled, No Drapery – very scarce; Type 1 reverse, micro S – scarce; Type 1 reverse, No Drapery, micro S – scarce; Type 2 reverse, micro S – extremely rare; Type 2 reverse, micro S, No Drapery – extremely rare; Type 2 reverse, small narrow S.
1878 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, 123 proofs released into circulation.
1878-CC Half Dollar Type 2 reverse – rare.
1878-S Half Dollar Extremely scarce in all grades.
1879 Half Dollar Type 1 reverse, proofs only, split berry above H – scarce; Type 2 reverse, pointed berry above H, business strikes and proofs.
1880 Half Dollar

Type 1 reverse, proof only – scarce; Type 2 reverse, pointed berry above H, business strikes and proofs.

1881 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, pointed berry above H, business strikes and proofs.
1882 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like.
1883 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like.
1884 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like.
1885 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like.
1886 Half Dollar

Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like.

1887 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like.
1888 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like; business strikes are usually from clashed dies.
1889 Half Dollar Business strikes usually show die cracks from Star 6 to 9.
1890 Half Dollar Type 2 reverse, business strikes are usually proof-like.
1891 Half Dollar Last year of the type. Business strikes often show clash marks in the reverse field.



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Seated Liberty Half Dollars - Information on Seated Liberty Half Dollars 1839 - 1891

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