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U.S. Half Dollar Coins

Congress passed the law authorizing the U.S. Mint and spelling out coin denominations and specifications on April 2, 1792. The first copper coins went into production in 1793, and two years later the first silver coins were produced. The importance of the half Dollar was underscored when in 1794, the United States silver coinage began and the half dollar was one of the first three silver denominations to be issued, the other two were the silver dollar and half dime. The Mint planned to produce dollars first, but after producing 1,800 acceptable pieces, the press broke down because of the size and weight of the Silver Dollar.

Mint director Rittenhouse ordered suspension of Dollar production until the press could be repaired or replaced (it took nearly six months). During this time, the Mint was under pressure to coin the silver bullion that had been left by depositors. This demand was met by coining approximately 5,300 half Dollars in 1794. Thus, the two largest U.S. silver coins assume their natural role: the dollar as a showpiece and the half dollar as a workhorse.

The half Dollar originally preformed a significant function and carried exceptional weight in American commerce. But, the role it played in America's formative years has drastically changed. Beginning near the middle of the 20th century, the half dollar began to disappeared from American commerce. By early in the 21st century, it has become almost irrelevant to the nation's coinage system.



★★★★★ Flowing Hair Half Dollar ★★★★★


True to the congressional mandate (a design "emblematical of Liberty") Chief Engraver Robert Scot depicted "Liberty" as a young woman with freely flowing hair, hence, we get the name "Flowing Hair" (the flowing hair is symbolic of freedom). Also on the front of the Half Dollar, is the word "LIBERTY" at twelve o'clock and the date at six o'clock. The date and "LIBERTY" are separated by fifteen stars, emblematic of the fifteen states at that time.

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Flowing Hair Half Dollar Coin Obverse Flowing Hair Half Dollar Coin Reverse

Flowing Hair (1794 1795)

The coin's reverse depicts a small, spread-winged eagle perched upon a rock and surrounded by laurel branches, and encircling the laurel branches is the motto UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The half dollar's edge bears the inscription FIFTY CENTS or HALF A DOLLAR, with decorations between the words.

After completing the first production run of Flowing Hair half dollars, the Mints rolling equipment broke down. Repairs took several weeks, and as 1794 drew to a close the Mint still had at least six obverse dies on hand with the 1794 date. Rather than scrap the dies, it continued making 1794 half dollars in 1795. When all the 1794 dies became unusable the Mint started using dies dated 1795.

Some 1795 half dollars have a recut date, but these are fairly common. Some 1795 pieces have three leaves under each of the eagle's wings, instead of the normal two, and these are scarce. No proofs are known for this series, which is widely collected by type. In 1796 the Mint replaced the "Flowing Hair" obverse with the "Draped Bust" portrait of Liberty. The Flowing Hair version lasted only two-years. There are 10 Overton varieties for the 1794 date and a total of 32 varieties for the 1795.

  

Flowing Hair Half Dollar Specs. & Mintage

Year/Mint Circulation Strikes
1794 23,464
1795 299,680
Designer: Robert Scot
Content: 89.2% silver 10.8% copper
Diameter: 32.5 millimeters
Weight: 13.5 grams
Edge: Lettered - FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR, ornaments between words vary
Mint Mark Location: None (all were made in Philadelphia)

Flowing Hair Fifty Cent Grading

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1796 - 1807 Draped Bust Half Dollar

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Draped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 1) Obverse Draped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 1) Reverse

Type 1 Small Eagle
(1796 1797)

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Draped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 2) Obverse Draped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 2) Reverse

Type 2 Large Eagle
(1801-1807)

During the first few years, coin designs underwent rapid and often radical changes. The U.S. Mint, still in its infancy, was sometimes overly sensitive to criticism and often seemed to respond to critics in an effort to find just the right monetary image for a new nation. After only two years of production, 1794 and 1795, the Mint replaced the youthful Flowing Hair Liberty with a more mature and sedate Liberty known as the "Draped Bust" type.

The number of stars increased from fifteen to sixteen during the 1796 production year. Tennessee had been admitted to the Union as the 16th state. Oddly enough, it then dropped back to fifteen in 1797. The evidence suggests that dies were prepared in advance and then dated only as they were needed for coining.

Draped Bust half dollars (1796 and 1797) are the rarest circulation strike of any U.S. silver coins. This is because most bullion depositors in the late 1790's wanted silver dollars; half dollars were only minted upon the specific request of the depositor. The mintage was quite low even for that period and few specimens were preserved as keepsakes, and nearly all examples are circulated.

The most common Draped Bust half dollar is the 1797, but common is a relative term, and by most standards, they are rare and quite expensive even in the lower grades and more expensive as the grade increases.

The Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar type was minted for two years, and production stopped. There was no half dollars minted from 1798 through 1800. When the series resumed in 1801 the obverse remained essentially the same, but the reverse displayed the Heraldic Eagle.

Draped Bust/Small eagle half dollars are extremely scarce in all grades and virtually nonexistent in high mint state grades. Points to check for wear are the hair above Liberty's forehead and the crest of the eagle's breast.

     

Draped Bust Half Dollar Specs. & Mintage

Year/Mint Circulation Strikes
Type 1 Small Eagle
1796 3,918
1797
Type 2 Large Eagle
1801 30,289
1802 29,890
1803 188,234
1805 211,722
1806 839,576
1807 301,076
Type 1 With Small Eagle Reverse (1796-1797)
Obverse Designer: Robert Scot
Reverse Designer: John Eckstein
Content: 89.2% silver 10.8% copper
Diameter: 32.5 millimeters
Weight: 13.5 grams
Edge: Lettered - FIFTY CENTS or HALF A DOLLAR, ornaments between words vary
Mint Mark: None - minted in Philadelphia

Type 2 With Large Eagle Reverse (1801-1807)
Designer: Robert Scot

Draped Bust (Small Eagle) Fifty Cent Grading

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Wear first begins to shows on the hair above the forehead and on the hair over her ear and shoulder and on the area where the bust meets the drapery line. On the reverse, pay attention to the center of the eagle’s breast and the ribbon.

Draped Bust (Large Eagle) Fifty Cent Grading

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Wear first begins to shows on the hair above the forehead and on the hair over her ear and shoulder and on the area where the bust meets the drapery line. On the reverse, pay attention to the center of the eagle’s breast and the ribbon.

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Capped Bust Half Dollar 1807 - 1839

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Capped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 1) Obverse Capped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 1) Reverse

Type 1 Lettered Edge
"50 C." on Reverse
(1807-1836)

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Capped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 2) Reverse Capped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 2) Reverse

Type 2 Reeded Edge
"50 Cents" on Reverse
(1836-1837)

In the Liberty Capped Bust half dollar, Liberty wears a mobcap (without a chin tie) and across the bottom is the word LIBERTY. Webster's dictionary describes a mobcap as a woman's fancy indoor cap made with a high full crown and often tied under the chin. Thirteen six-point stars inside the dentilled rim, seven to the left and six to the right. The date is at six o'clock.

Bust half dollars with lettered edges are coveted by many collectors. The term Bust halves usually applies to the Capped Bust half dollars and the Draped Bust that came before them. They were struck using screw presses, and each die was prepared individually by hand, also the date, stars and lettering was hand punched resulting in numerous varieties. This allows specialists to pinpoint exactly which die was used to strike any given coin. After the introduction of steam power and near the end of the Capped Bust coinage (in the late 1830s) half dollars were made with reeded edges. But, the halves most collectors prefer are the Capped Bust/lettered edge coins issued from 1807 to 1836.

Capped Bust halves produced until 1836 have a lettered edge and were made with screw presses, after them came the steam powered presses. The steam powered presses offered several advantages. They were faster, coins became more uniform and required fewer operators. There was one disadvantage, the closed collar dies required for steam presses would not permit the coins to have lettering on the edge. It was not until 2007 when lettered edges on U.S. coins reappeared (Presidential dollars).

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Capped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 3) Obverse Capped Bust Half Dollar Coin (Type 3) Reverse

Type 3 Reeded Edge
"Half Dol." on Reverse
(1838-1839)

There were several other subtle changes throughout the life of the series, but the 1836 edge change is used by many collectors to separate the half dollar into two distinct types.

An eagle was placed on the reverse, its head turned right (viewer's left), wings outstretched ready to fly and a shield over the breast. Three arrows are held in his claw (eagle's left) and an olive branch in the other.

A concentric banner with E PLURIBUS UNUM is placed above the eagle, below STATES OF, flat except for folded ends. In 1836 the banner was removed, along with the lettered edge and 50C. The 50C. was replaced with 50 CENTS.

These "Reeded Edge" half dollars can be found in mint state grades, however, few have survived in grades of MS65 and higher. The first points to wear on the obverse are the drapery at the front of the bust, the shoulder clasp and the cap and hair above the eye.

On the reverse, wear will first show on the eagle's wing-edges and talons.

In 1839, Capped Bust halves production ended, and Christian Gobrecht's Seated Liberty design was adopted. In 1840 this coin type peaked everyone's interest again when in New Orleans a "Capped Bust" reverse die was mulled to a "Seated Liberty" obverse dated 1840, thus creating the scarce Medium Letters variety.

  

Liberty Capped Half Dollar Specs. & Mintage

Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes
Type 1 Mintage
1807750,500
18081,368,600 18091,405,810
18101,276,276 18111,203,644
18121,628,059 18131,241,903
18141,039,075 181547,150
18171,215,567
18181,960,322 18192,208,000
1820751,122 18211,305,797
18221,559,573 18231,694,200
18243,504,954 18252,943,166
18264,004,180 18275,493,400
18283,075,200 18293,712,156
18304,764,800 18315,873,660
18324,797,000 18335,206,000
18346,412,004 18355,352,006
18366,545,000
Type 2 Mintage
18361,200 18373,629,820
Type 3 Mintage
18383,546,000 1838-O0
18391,392,976 1839-O178,976
Type 1 Lettered Edge (1807-1836)
Designer: John Reich
Content: 89.2% silver 10.8% copper
Diameter: 32-33 millimeters
Weight: 13.48 grams
Edge: Lettered "FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR"
Mint Mark Location: Above the date on the obverse.

Type 2 Reeded Edge With "Cents" On Reverse (1836-1837)
Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Content: 90% silver 10% copper
Diameter: 30 millimeters
Weight: 13.36 grams
Edge: Reeded

Type 3 Reeded Edge With "Half Dol. " On Reverse (1838-1839)
Designer: Christian Gobrecht






Liberty Capped Fifty Cent Grading

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Liberty Seated Half Dollar 1839 - 1891

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Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 1) Obverse Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 1) Reverse

Type 1 No Drapery
(1839)

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Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 2) Obverse Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 2) Reverse

Type 2 No Motto
(1839 - 1853) (1856 - 1866)

The concept for the Liberty Seated design came from U.S. Mint Director Robert Patterson. Patterson liked the strength conveyed in the seated "Brittania" and ask for a design of his Liberty Seated concept. The design was placed on several coins, including the Half Dollar.

The obverse is a representation of Liberty with flowing robes, seated on a rock, her head turned to her right, her left arm bent and holding a pole topped by a "Liberty cap". Her right hand supporting a Union shield at her side across it is a curved banner displaying LIBERTY. The date is at the bottom of the rock on which she is setting. Inside dentils along the raised rim 13 stars form a partial circle.

This 1839 half dollar was produced in two types. The No Drapery type refers to the absence of drapery below Liberty's elbow. The Drapery 1839 version adds extra drapery extending from the elbow to the leg. An additional distinguishing feature is the rock upon which Liberty rests is larger than the one shown on other types of liberty seated half dollars.

The reverse has eagle with partly extended wings. The eagle clutches three arrows in the left claw and an olive branch in the right (fletching is shown for only two arrowheads) and a shield is over the chest.

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Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 3) obverse Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 3) reverse

Type 3 Arrows & Rays
(1853)

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Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 4) Obverse Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 4) Reverse

Type 4 No Motto
Arrows at Date
(1854 - 1855)

When Gold was discovered in California and began to be minted into coins, the price of silver went up compared to gold. To keep people from melting silver coins the silver content was dropped in silver coins (except for silver dollars). When the silver in the quarter dollar was reduced from 6.68 grams to 6.22 grams, an arrowhead was added to each side of the date, and rays extending out from the eagle were added to the reverse.

The next year, the rays were eliminated from the reverse. The reason for this change was most likely because of the extra time needed to make the dies with rays, also excessive die wear from the heavier pressure needed to strike the design properly.

Keeping the lighter weight, the Type 2 design was resumed in 1856 and continued until 1865. In 1866 the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the reverse.

The first use of arrows and rays, then arrows only, marked a weight decrease of nearly one-half gram. This second use of arrows, defining the 1873-1874 type, was used for a much smaller difference of 0.03 grams. In 1875 mintage of the Type 5 design was resumed and continued until being replaced by the Barber Half Dollar.

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Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 5) Obverse Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 5) Reverse

Type 5 With Motto
(1866 - 1873) (1875 - 1891)

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Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 6) Obverse Liberty Seated Half dollar Coin (Type 6) Reverse

Type 6 Motto & Arrows
(1873 - 1874)

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Liberty Setting Specs.

Type 1 No Drapery at Elbow (1839)
Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Weight: 13.36 grams
Diameter: 30.6 millimeters
Edge: Reeded
Content: 90% silver 10% copper
Mint Mark Location: Below the eagle on the reverse.

Type 2 Without Motto On Reverse (1839 - 1853)
Weight: 13.36 grams

Type 3 With Arrowheads At Date And Rays On Reverse (1853)
Weight: 12.44 grams

Type 4 With Arrowheads At Date, Without Rays On Reverse (1854 - 1855)
Weight: 12.44 grams

Type 5 With "In God We Trust" On Reverse (1866 - 1873)
Weight: 12.44 grams

Type 6 With Arrowheads (1873 - 1874)
Weight: 12.5 grams
Liberty Seated Half Dollar Mintage

Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes
Type 1
1839 1,972,400
Type 2
1840 1,435,008 1840-O 855,100
1841 310,000 1841-O 401,000
1842 2,012,764 1842-O 957,000
1843 3,844,000 1843-O 2,268,000
1844 1,766,000 1844-O 2,005,000
1845 589,000 1845-O 2,094,000
1846 2,210,000 1846-O 2,304,000
1847 1,156,000 1847-O 2,584,000
1848 580,000 1848-O 3,180,000
1849 1,252,000 1849-O 2,310,000
1850 227,000 1850-O 2,456,000
1851 200,750 1851-O 402,000
1852 77,130 1852-O 144,000
1853-O About 5
Type 3 Mintage
1853 3,532,708 1853-O 1,328,000
Type 4 Mintage
1854 2,982,000 1854-O 5,240,000
1855 759,500 1855-O 3,688,000 1855-S 129,950
Type 2 Resumed
1856 938,000 1856-O 2,658,000 1856-S 211,000
1857 1,988,000 1857-O 818,000 1857-S 158,000
1858 4,226,000 1858-O 7,294,000 1858-S 476,000
1859 747,200 1859-O 2,834,000 1859-S 566,000
1860 302,700 1860-O 1,290,000 1860-S 472,000
1861 2,887,400 1861-O 2,532,633 1861-S 939,500
1862 253,000 1862-S 1,352,000
1863 503,200 1863-S 916,000
1864 379,100 1864-S 658,000
1865 511,400 1865-S 675,000
1866-S No Motto60,000
Type 5 With Motto
1866744,900 1866-S 994,000
1867 449,300 1867-S 1,196,000
1868 417,600 1868-S 1,160,000
1869 795,300 1869-S 656,000
1870 633,900 1870-CC 54,617 1870-S 1,004,000
1871 1,203,600 1871-CC 153,950 1871-S 2,178,000
1872 880,600 1872-CC 257,000 1872-S 580,000
1873 801,200 1873-CC 122,500 1873-S 5,000
Type 6 Arrowheads at Date
1873 1,815,150 1873-CC 214,560 1873-S 228,000
1874 2,359,600 1874-CC 59,000 1874-S 394,000
Type 5 Resumed
1875 6,026,800 1875-CC 1,008,000 1875-S 3,200,000
1876 8,418,000 1876-CC 1,956,000 1876-S 4,528,000
1877 8,304,000 1877-CC 1,420,000 1877-S 5,356,000
1878 1,377,600 1878-CC 62,000 1878-S 12,000
1879 4,800
1880 8,400
1881 10,000
1882 4,400
1883 8,000
1884 4,400
1885 5,200
1886 5,000
1887 5,000
1888 12,001
1889 12,000
1890 12,000
1891 200,000

Liberty Seated Fifty Cent Grading

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Liberty Head "Barber" Half Dollar 1892 - 1915

In his annual report for 1887, Mint Director James P. Kimball pointed out the "popular desire for an improvement of the coinage in respect to the present designs." But, the Treasury Department was already holding large stores of silver coins, no action was taken until 1890. Finally, in 1890 the inventories of older halves and quarters dropped to the point where production seemed likely to resume. This seemed a more likely opportunity to redesign these coins. Three coins seemed likely candidates, the half dollar, the quarter dollar and the dime.

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Liberty Head (BARBER) Half Dollar Coin Obverse Liberty Head (BARBER) Half Dollar Coin Reverse

'BARBER' Half Dollar

Kimball wanted to hold a competition were ten outstanding artists would offer designs. Unfortunately, these artists got together and made a number of unacceptable demands. The Treasury turned them down and instead conducted a contest open to one and all. This produced some 300 entries, but nothing deemed usable on the coinage. Chief engraver Charles Barber was instructed to develop a new design.

Barbers portrait of Liberty facing right is similar to George Morgan's design on the dollar. Around the Liberty cap is a laurel wreath tied by a bow. She has a small band in the front which displays the word LIBERTY. Inside the rim are the words IN GOD WE TRUST, the date at the bottom, with thirteen six-point stars, six to the left and seven to the right.

The reverse displays a eagle with outstretched wings and legs, the left claw clutching an olive branch and the right a bundle of arrows. The eagles beak holds a ribbon with E PLURIBUS UNUM on it. Around the rim are UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at the top, QUARTER DOLLAR at the bottom. There are thirteen five-point stars above the eagle.

Barber half dollars were struck a total of 24 years and in 73 different date-and-mint combinations. Scarce dates include 1892-O, 1892-S, 1893-S, 1896-S, 1901-S, 1904-S and from Philadelphia 1913, 1914 and 1915. There are no extreme rare dates, although the 1892-O with a Micro O mint mark has only a few dozen known examples.

When grading this design, the points on the obverse that will first show wear are the cheek and the hair below LIBERTY on the reverse, check the eagle's head and the tips of the tail and wings.

In 1916, the Barber coin was replaced by a new half dollar, the Walking Liberty type was issued.

     

Liberty Head Half Dollar Specs.

Designer: Charles E. Barber
Weight: 12.5 grams
Diameter: 30.6 millimeters
Edge: Reeded
Content: 90% silver 10% copper
Mint Mark Location: Below the eagle's tail on the reverse.
Liberty Head Half Dollar Mintage

Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes
1892 935,245 1892-O 390,000 1892-S 1,029,028
1893 1,826,792 1893-O 1,389,000 1893-S 740,000
1894 1,148,972 1894-O 2,138,000 1894-S 4,048,690
1895 1,835,218 1895-O 1,766,000 1895-S 1,108,086
1896 950,762 1896-O 924,000 1896-S 1,140,948
1897 2,480,731 1897-O 632,000 1897-S 933,900
1898 2,956,735 1898-O 874,000 1898-S 2,358,550
1899 5,538,846 1899-O 1,724,000 1899-S 1,686,411
1900 4,762,912 1900-O 2,744,000 1900-S 2,560,322
1901 4,268,813 1901-O 1,124,000 1901-S 847,044
1902 4,922,777 1902-O 2,526,000 1902-S 1,460,670
1903 2,278,755 1903-O 2,100,000 1903-S 1,920,772
1904 2,992,670 1904-O 1,117,600 1904-S 553,038
1905 662,727 1905-O 505,000 1905-S 2,494,000

Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes
Four Mints in Operation
1906 2,638,675 1906-D 4,028,000 1906-O 2,446,000 1906-S 1,740,154
1907 2,598,575 1907-D 3,856,000 1907-O 3,946,000 1907-S 1,250,000
1908 1,354,545 1908-D 3,280,000 1908-O 5,360,000 1908-S 1,644,828

Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes
Back to Three Mints in Operation
1909 2,368,650 1909-O 925,400 1909-S 1,764,000
1910 418,551 1910-S 1,948,000
1911 1,406,543 1911-D 695,080 1911-S 1,272,000
1912 1,550,700 1912-D 2,300,800 1912-S 1,370,000
1913 188,627 1913-D 534,000 1913-S 604,000
1914 124,610 1914-S 992,000
1915 138,450 1915-D 1,170,400 1915-S 1,604,000

Liberty Head (Barber) Fifty Cent Grading

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Liberty Walking Half Dollar 1916 - 1947

Over 485 million Walking Liberty halves were produced between 1916 and 1947, however, the halves were issued sporadically during the 1920s and early '30s. A silver half dollar had substantial buying power, especially after the Wall Street crash plunged the nation into the Great Depression. A full set consists of 65 different date-and-mint combinations and walkers are popular among collectors and non-collectors alike.

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Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coin Obverse Walking Liberty Half Dollar Coin Reverse

Walking Liberty (1916 - 1947)

Liberty is displayed on the obverse walking left in full stride toward the rising sun (a new day). She is wearing a cap, Roman sandals and a long flowing gown. Her right arm is outstretched, with her left carrying branches of laurel and oak symbolizing civil and military glory. An American flag billows behind her and partially wraps around her. It appears the wind is at her back.

The reverse depicts a majestic left walking eagle, its wings partially uplifted, stands on a rock, its right claw clutching a pine branch (showing both needles and cones) was placed on the reverse.

These strongly patriotic themes resonated perfectly across a nation then preparing to enter World War I, ironically against the land of Weinman's birth.

In 1916 and part of 1917 the mint mark appeared below IN GOD WE TRUST, in 1917 it was moved to the reverse.

Click to view mint-mark on & examples.

As beautiful as the half dollar was, unfortunately, it was difficult to strike, and many dates are weakly struck and the census reports few proof pieces. Half dollars for circulation were not minted in 1922, 1924 through 1926, and 1930 through 1932.

The Franklin half dollar succeeded the Walker in 1948. But 38 years later, in 1986, Uncle Sam dusted off the Weinman design for the obverse of the one-ounce American Eagle silver bullion coin, which has been minted annually ever since.

     

Liberty Walking Specs.

Designer: Adolph Alexander Weinman
Weight: 12.5 grams
Diameter: 30 millimeters
Edge: Reeded
Content: 90% silver 10% copper
Mint Mark Location:
1916 - 1917: Below the R of TRUST on the obverse.
1917 - 1947: Below the branch on the reverse. (1917 could be either location)
Walking Liberty Half Dollar Mintage

Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes Date/MintCirculation Strikes
Mint Mark On Obverse
1916608,000 1916-D1,014,400 1916-S508,000
1917-D765,400 1917-S952,000
Mint Mark On Reverse
191712,292,000 1917-D1,940,000 1917-S5,554,000
19186,634,000 1918-D3,853,040 1918-S10,282,000
1919962,000 1919-D1,165,000 1919-S1,552,000
19206,372,000 1920-D1,551,000 1920-S4,624,000
1921246,000 1921-D208,000 1921-S548,000
1923-S2,178,000
None Dated 1924, 1925 or 1926
1927-S2,392,000
1928-S1,940,000
1929-D1,001,200 1929-S1,902,000
None Dated 1930, 1931 or 1932
1933-S1,786,000
19346,964,000 1934-D2,361,400 1934-S3,652,000
19359,162,000 1935-D3,003,800 1935-S3,854,000
193612,617,901 1936-D3,884,000 1936-S4,252,400
19379,527,728 1937-D1,676,000 1937-S2,090,000
19384,118,152 1938-D491,600
19396,820,808 1939-D4,267,800 1939-S2,552,000
19409,167,279 1940-S4,550,000
194124,207,412 1941-D11,248,400 1941-S8,098,000
194247,839,120 1942-D10,973,800 1942-S12,708,000
194353,190,000 1943-D11,346,000 1943-S13,450,000
194428,206,000 1944-D9,769,000 1944-S8,904,000
194531,502,000 1945-D9,966,800 1945-S10,156,000
194612,118,000 1946-D2,151,000 1946-S3,724,000
19474,094,000 1947-D3,900,600

Liberty Walking Fifty Cent Grading

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U.S. Franklin Half Dollar 1948 - 1963

After seeing a 1932 U.S. Mint medal prepared in Franklin's honor by John R. Sinnock, Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross had contemplated a coin honoring Benjamin Franklin. John R. Sinnock was the Mint's chief sculptor-engraver.

Demands made by World War II forced postponement of production changes, non-the-less, Ross (still enthusiasm for the project) directed Sinnock to design a Franklin coin on a contingency basis.

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Franklin Half Dollar Coin Obverse Franklin Half Dollar Coin Reverse

Franklin Half Dollar 1948 - 1963

The federal Commission of Fine Arts (an advisory body) made several objections, first the objected to the eagle's size, they also disapproved of showing the crack in the Liberty Bell. They argued that "to show this might lead to puns and to statements derogatory to United States coinage.": the Treasury Department approved Sinnock's models without change. When the Franklin half dollar made its debut it completed the conversion of U.S. coin designs from allegorical figures (Lady Liberty) to portraits of famous Americans.

The Liberty Bell on the reverse of the Franklin Half Dollar made sense. Both were closely identified with the nation's birth and with the city of Philadelphia.

There are only four features on the Franklin Half Dollar: most prominent is the portrait of Franklin with LIBERTY at twelve o'clock, IN GOD WE TRUST at six o'clock and the date near Franklins chin.

The Liberty Bell is centered of the reverse, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at twelve o'clock and HALF DOLLAR, in slightly larger text, at six o'clock. The phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left of the bell, and a small eagle is to right. The eagle, with wings partially outstretched, sits on a perch. Mint marks are located above the wood beam holding the bell.

There were other objections also, the designers initials (JRS for John R. Sinnock) some said stood for Joseph Stalin, the obvious presentation of the crack in the Liberty Bell, and later because of the small o in "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" rumored to be an error, but was never changed.

Although Franklin half dollar mintages were modest by modern-day standards, the series contains no issues that are particularly rare. The production low point came in 1953, when the Philadelphia Mint struck just under 2.8 million examples; the peak occurred in 1963, when the Denver Mint made just over 67 million. Franklin halves also were minted in San Francisco. On branch-mint issues, the D or S mint mark appears above the bell on the reverse. Total mintage for the series, including proofs, was almost 498 million coins.

A full set of Franklin halves consists of 35 different business strikes and 14 different proofs. Because it is so compact and easily affordable in less-than-pristine grades, the series is widely collected by date and mint.

     

Franklin Half Dollar Specs.

Designer: John R. Sinnock
Weight: 12.5 grams
Diameter: 30 millimeters
Edge: Reeded
Content: 90% silver 10% copper
Mint Mark Legend: Centered above the bell on the reverse.
Benjamin Franklin Half Dollar Mintage

Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes
1948 3,006,814 1948-D 4,028,600
1949 5,614,000 1949-D 4,120,600 1949-S 3,744,000
1950 7,742,123 1950-D 8,031,600
1951 16,802,102 1951-D 9,475,200 1951-S 13,696,000
1952 21,192,093 1952-D 25,395,600 1952-S 5,526,000
1953 2,668,120 1953-D 20,900,400 1953-S 4,148,000
1954 13,188,203 1954-D 25,445,580 1954-S 4,993,400
1955 2,498,181
1956 4,032,000
1957 5,114,000 1957-D 19,996,850
1958 4,042,000 1958-D 23,962,412
1959 6,200,000 1959-D 13,053,750
1960 6,024,000 1960-D 18,215,812
1961 8,290,000 1961-D 20,276,442
1962 9,714,000 1962-D 35,473,281
1963 22,164,000 1963-D 67,069,292

Franklin Fifty Cent Grading

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Full Bell Line
Example

FBL's are the product of a good "strong strike". Many Franklin half dollars may be in Mint State, and still not have Full Bell Lines.

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Kennedy Half Dollar 1964 - Present

Shortly after President Kennedy's death, Ms. Eva Adams, the Director of the Mint, telephoned Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, Gilroy Roberts at the Philadelphia Mint to inform him that serious consideration was being given to placing President Kennedy's portrait on a coin. The quarter dollar, half dollar or the one dollar were being discussed.

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Kennedy Half Dollar Coin (Type 1) Obverse Kennedy Half Dollar Coin (Type 1) Reverse

Type 1 90% Silver (1964)

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Kennedy Half Dollar Coin (Bicentennial) Obverse Kennedy Half Dollar Coin (Bicentennial) Reverse

Type 4 Bicentennial Reverse
(1975-1976)

November 27, Ms. Adams called again and informed him that the half dollar had been chosen since Mrs. Kennedy did not want to replace Washington on the quarter dollar. Ms. Adams also informed Roberts that he was to use the profile portrait that appears on the Mint list medal for President Kennedy. The reverse was to display the President's Seal.

Two complications stood in the way of immediate production. First, there was a nation wide coin shortage, and Half dollars of one type or the other were needed soon. The second was a legal problem; the Franklin Half Dollar had only been in production 15 years (short of the 25 years required by congress). The Franklin Half replacement would require an act of Congress. With surprising speed, the Act of December 30, 1963 cleared the way for the Kennedy half dollar.

The first regular-issue Kennedy half dollars began production at the Denver Mint, and the Philadelphia Mint followed suit the week after and were released to the public on March 24, 1964. Despite limiting the number of coins an individual could buy, banks were quickly sold out. Few of these coins were actually circulated. Many became keepsakes cherished by many Americans as well as foreign admirers.

A portrait of Kennedy facing left occupies the center of the obverse. The letters BER in LIBERTY is partially obscured by Kennedy's head. The date is at 6 o'clock. IN GOD WE TRUST is in two sections separated by the point of Kennedy's neck just above the date. On the neck is a GR (the initials of Gilroy Robert).

The reverse (displaying the President's seal) in the center has nine major features: An eagle with outstretched wings and a shield, circling the eagle is a concentric circle of 50 small five-point stars. The eagles left claw (viewer's right) holding a bundle of arrows and his right an olive branch. In his beak is a banner with "E PLURIBUS UNUM". Thirteen five pointed stars in an arc above the banner. Above the arc is thirteen connected dot-like clouds. Extending upward from the eagle are sun-like rays. The designers initials FG are to the left of the eagle's tail.

After only one years production the silver content was changed to 40% silver.

In 1971 the Kennedy half dollars silver content was again changed. The silver was reduced from 40% silver to nearly all copper except for a thin layer of silver on the front and back.

Regular production of the clad half dollar was suspended for 1975 and 1976 as part of the Bicentennial celebration. Independence Hall was placed on the reverse for those two years, and the date was given as 1776-1976 for both years. In 1977 production of the silver clad half dollar was resumed.

     

Kennedy Half Dollar Specs.

Type 1 90% Silver Kennedy Half Dollar (1964)
Obverse Designer: Gilroy Roberts
Reverse Designer: Frank Gasparro
Diameter: 31 millimeters
Weight: 12.5 grams
Content: 90% silver 10% copper
Edge: Reeded
Mint Mark Location: Centered above the date on the obverse

Type 2 40% Silver Clad Kennedy Half Dollar (1965 - 1970)
Weight: 11.5 grams
Content: Cladding 80% Silver 20% Copper, Core 79% Copper 21% Silver
Type 3 Copper Nickel Clad Half Dollar (1971 - 1974) (1977 - Present)
Weight: 11.3 grams
Content: Cladding 75% Copper 25% Nickel, Core 100% Copper
Type 4 Bicentennial Half Dollar (1975 - 1976)
Reverse Designer: Seth Huntington
Weight: 40% Silver: 11.3 grams
Kennedy Half Dollar Mintage

Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes
Type 1 90% silver
1964 273,304,004 1964-D 156,205,446
Type 2 Cladding: 80% Silver/20% Copper, Core: 79% Copper/21% Silver
1965 65,879,366
1966 108,984,932
1967 295,046,978
1968-D 246,951,930
1969-D 129,881,800
1970-D 2,150,000
Type 3 Cladding: 75% Copper/25% Nickel, Core: 100% Copper
1971 155,164,000 1971-D 302,097,424
1972 153,180,000 1972-D 141,890,000
1973 64,964,000 1973-D 83,171,400
1974 201,596,000 1974-D 79,066,300
Type 4 - Bicentennial
1776-1976234,308,000 1776-1976-D 287,565,248
1776-1976-S 40% Silver (proof)+ or -   5,000,000
Type 3 Resumed
1977 43,598,000 1977-D 31,449,106
1978 14,350,000 1978-D 13,765,799
1979 68,312,000 1979-D 15,815,422
Philadelphia Required The Mint Mark P
1980-P 44,134,000 1980-D 33,456,449
1981-P 29,544,000 1981-D 27,839,533
1982-P 10,819,000 1982-D 13,140,102
1983-P 34,139,000 1983-D 32,472,244
1984-P 26,029,000 1984-D 26,262,158
1985-P 18,706,962 1985-D 19,814,034
1986-P 13,107,633 1986-D 15,336,145
1987-P 2,890,758 1987-D 2,890,758
1988-P 13,626,000 1988-D 12,000,096
1989-P 24,542,000 1989-D 23,000,216
1990-P 22,278,000 1990-D 20,096,242
1991-P 14,874,000 1991-D 15,054,678
1992-P 17,628,000 1992-D 17,000,106
1993-P 15,510,000 1993-D 15,000,006
1994-P 23,718,000 1994-D 23,828,110
1995-P 26,496,000 1995-D 26,288,000
1996-P 24,442,000 1996-D 24,744,000
1997-P 20,882,000 1997-D 19,876,000
1998-P 15,646,000 1998-D 15,064,000
1999-P 8,900,000 1999-D 10,682,000
2000-P 22,600,000 2000-D 19,466,000
2001-P 21,200,000 2001-D 19,504,000
2002-P 3,100,000 2002-D 2,500,000
2003-P 2,500,000 2003-D 2,500,000
2004-P 2,900,000 2004-D 2,900,000
2005-P 3,800,000 2005-D 3,500,000
2006-P 2,400,000 2006-D 2,000,000
2007-P 2,400,000 2007-D 2,400,000
2008-P 1,700,000 2008-D 1,700,000
2009-P 1,900,000 2009-D 1,900,000
2010-P 1,800,000 2010-D 1,700,000
2011-P 1,750,000 2011-D 1,700,000
2012-P 1,800,000 2012-D 1,700,000
2013-P 5,000,000 2013-D 4,600,000
2014-P 2,500,000 2014-D 2,100,000
2015-P 2,300,000 2015-D 2,300,000
2016-P 2,100,000 2016-D 2,100,000

Kennedy Fifty Cent Grading

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