LIBERTY HEAD HALF
EAGLES (MOTTO ON REVERSE) - (1866-1908)
Gobrecht’s LIBERTY HEAD (MOTTO
ON REVERSE) FIVE DOLLARS OR HALF EAGLE:
The Liberty Head Motto on Reverse or With Motto half eagle
was minted from 1866 to 1908. It was designed by Christian
Gobrecht and shows Liberty wearing a coronet as she faced
left in profile. Her hair is tied in the back with beads
while two loose curls flow down her neck. She is surrounded
by thirteen six-pointed stars with the date below. Dentils
are near the edge of both sides of the coin. The shows the
heraldic eagle with its head turned to the left. In its
talons it holds an olive branch and arrows, symbols of peace
and preparedness. Above its head on a banner, the motto
IN GOD WE TRUST was added. The denomination is below. In
addition to dentils, the coin has a reeded edge.
In March, 1865, a coinage act was passed
that required that the motto be added to all coins large
enough to accommodate it. The Mint interpreted this to mean
for gold coinage the half eagle, the eagle, and the double
eagle. The Liberty Head With Motto half eagle was created
as a result of this mandate. (All silver coins larger than
a dime also had the motto added.)
A prototype in proof only was struck in
1865. Only two are known. In 1866 dies were shipped to San
Francisco for the new reverse to be struck; however, evidently
they did not arrive on time and 9,000 1866 No Motto coins
were struck. Later in the year 34,920 Liberty Head With
Motto coins were made bearing the S mintmark.
According to the records of the United States
Treasury Department, the first request for the recognition
of God on coinage was made in a letter from the Reverend
Mark Richards Watkinson of Ridlelyville, Pennsylvania on
November 13, 1861 to Salmon P. Chase, Treasury Secretary.
“You are about to submit your annual report to Congress
respecting the affairs of the national finances,”
Watkinson said in the letter. “One fact touching our
currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean
the recognition of the Almighty God in some form in our
coins.” This letter set off a series of events that
caused an 1864 law to be passed allowing the “In God
We Trust” motto to be placed on coins and the 1865
law that mandated it. Mintages of the Liberty Head With
Motto half eagle range from an extremely low 200 in 1875
to 5,708,802 in 1881. The 1875 coin is extremely rare. Both
major grading services have certified only 12 in all grades
and that does not account for resubmissions and crossovers.
Fewer than 100 are known to exist. Low mintage usually
seen in VF or XF grades. Only 9 have been certified
in Mint State, the highest of which is a single MS63
piece. Approximately 16 to 19 proofs are known.
Fewer than 100 are known to exist. Extremely low mintage,
usually seen in VF to XF grades. Only 7 have been certified
in Mint State, and 5 of them are in MS61 condition.
Approximately 11 proofs are known.
Extremely low mintage. About 55 to 60 are known in all
grades. Only 55 have been certified in all grades by
both services. There are 9 certified in Mint State,
the finest of which are 4 in MS64. Approximately 15
to 17 proofs are known.
Found with Open and Close 3 in the date. The Close 3
is slightly rarer. Both varieties are available in low
uncirculated grades. The finest certified Open 3 are
3 in MS65. The finest certified Close 3 are 3 in MS66.
Approximately 15 to 17 proofs are known.
mintage; fewer than 10 are known in all grades. Included
in the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins. Only 12 have been certified
with none in Mint State. The highest certified are 3
in AU55. Approximately 13 proofs are known.
Extremely low mintage coin. Approximately 45 are known
to exist in all grades. Several high grades saved as
souvenirs of the centennial. 13 have been certified
in Mint State. The finest are 2 in MS65. Approximately
26 to 29 proofs are known.
mintage of the series. Common in Mint State grades up
to MS65. The finest certified is a single MS67. Look
for the 1881/0 overdate of which more than 200 have
been certified. Approximately 21 to 24 proofs are known.
mintage; rare in all grades especially above MS62. Most
examples are heavily circulated and show abrasions and
bag marks. The finest certified is a single MS67 example.
Approximately 26 to 29 proofs are known.
in all grades. Most are heavily circulated. Rare in
all Mint State grades. The finest certified is a single
MS69 example that had been obtained directly from the
Mint and became part of the Eliasberg collection.
date that is popular as first year of the new century.
Rare above MS65. The finest certified are 2 examples
in MS68, which may represent a single con that was resubmitted.
Most common proof of the series. Approximately 76 to
99 are known.
in all grades. Rare above MS64. The finest certified
are 2 examples in MS68, which may represent a single
con that was resubmitted. It was purchased directly
from the Mint and became part of the Eliasberg collection.