YEARS: 1794-1799  |  1800-1824  |  1825-1849  |  1850-1874  |  1875-1899  |  1900-1924  |  1925-1949  |  1950-1974  |  1975-1999  |  2000-
1793) && ($year < 1796 ) ): $qty=1; $info='Half dollars of 1794-1795 bear the same design as contemporary half dimes and silver dollars. The obverse features a small head of Miss Liberty facing right, with flowing hair behind, LIBERTY above, and the date below. Eight stars are to the left and seven to the right. The reverse illustrates an open wreath enclosing a "small" eagle, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounding. The borders of this and other half dollars (until 1916) have denticles. The edge features the lettering "FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR."

Pieces dated 1795 are by far the most often encountered of this type being some ten times more plentiful than the 1794s. Examples of both years are apt to be seen in lower grades, from About Good to Fine. Very Fine and Extremely Fine coins are scarce, while AU coins are rare. Uncirculated pieces are seldom met with. Areas of light striking characterize most pieces as do parallel mint-caused adjustment marks made during the planchet preparation process.

As is true of other early issues, these were "workhorse" coins intended for use in the channels of commerce. Few, if any pieces were set aside for collectors at the time of issue. Numerous die varieties exist among early half dollars.'; break; case ( ($year > 1795) && ($year < 1807 ) ): $qty=1; $info='Mintage of half dollars resumed in 1801 after a three-year hiatus between 1798 and 1800. This style, which continued through 1807, continued the Draped Bust obverse motif introduced in 1796, with 13 stars (seven left and six right) now standardized. The new "heraldic eagle" reverse introduced on the dimes and dollars in 1798, and the half dimes in 1800 now appeared on the halves as well. An adaptation of the Great Seal of the United States, it consisted of an eagle with a shield on its breast, holding arrows and an olive branch, with a scroll inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM in its beak. Above the eagle is an arc of clouds, below which is a group of stars. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds. No denomination appears.

There are no rare dates within the 1801 to 1807 span, although the 1801 and 1802 are the toughest, and some varieties are elusive. Nearly all specimens encountered display weakness of striking in one area or another, with the quality of strike becoming worse and worse as the years advanced. Nearly all halves dated 1806 and 1807 show weakness. Specimens are typically found in grades from Very Good to Very Fine, although Extremely Fine pieces can be found with some frequency. AU pieces are scarce, and strictly Uncirculated coins are rare. Even an Uncirculated specimen of 1807, for example, is apt to be very weakly defined in such areas as the rims, the obverse and reverse stars, and parts of the eagle.'; break; case ( $year == 1807 ): $qty=2; $info='In 1807 the Capped Bust obverse was introduced. Liberty now faces left, wearing a cap secured at the base with a ribbon or band inscribed LIBERTY, with tresses falling to her shoulder. Her low neckline is draped in a cloth or a gown and is secured by a brooch on her shoulder. Seven stars are to the left and six are to the right. The date is below. The reverse depicts an eagle perched on an olive branch and holding three arrows, with E PLURIBUS UNUM above on a scroll and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 50C surrounding. The edge displayed the lettering FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR.

This means that in 1807 two designs of the half dollar existed, namely the Draped Bust and the Capped Bust design. The Draped Bust continued to be minted throughout the year as the facilities changed their dies to make the new Capped Bust design.'; break; case ( ($year > 1807) && ($year < 1839 ) ): $qty=1; $info='In 1807 the Capped Bust obverse was introduced. Liberty now faces left, wearing a cap secured at the base with a ribbon or band inscribed LIBERTY, with tresses falling to her shoulder. Her low neckline is draped in a cloth or a gown and is secured by a brooch on her shoulder. Seven stars are to the left and six are to the right. The date is below. The reverse depicts an eagle perched on an olive branch and holding three arrows, with E PLURIBUS UNUM above on a scroll and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 50C surrounding. The edge displayed the lettering FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR.

Although there are a number of scarce varieties in the 1807-1836 range, most are readily obtainable. Specimens of most issues are typically encountered in grades from Fine to Extremely Fine, with some of the earlier dates in the range, 1807 through 1820, sometimes seen in Good to Very Good preservation. AU pieces are not difficult to find, especially of dates in the late 1820s and 1830s. Many of these pieces were held by, and traded between banks (as no silver dollars were struck for circulation between 1803 and 1840) so many survived with relatively light wear.

Uncirculated coins, particularly ones in higher ranges are elusive with superb pieces being scarce to rare. Many examples show lightness of striking, particularly on the stars on the obverse, the high parts of Miss Liberty, and E PLURIBS UNUM on the reverse. Among Uncirculated pieces, examples typically have friction or rubbing at the lower left of the bust, from coin-to-coin contact in bank bags.

Bust Halves enjoy great popularity from die variety collectors due to their relative availability, moderate price, and plethora of die varieties such as overdates, numeral shapes, large and small lettering, star sizes and other anomalies. Al C. Overton’s book provides the "roadmap" for collectors of this interesting series. In 1836, steam-powered presses were introduced to the Philadelphia Mint, and one of the first innovations was a new half dollar format. Christian Gobrecht modified John Reich’s Capped Bust style resulting in a coin of smaller diameter, with a reeded edge. The obverse continued the older design of Miss Liberty facing left, wearing a cloth cap with a band inscribed LIBERTY, with tresses falling to her shoulder, and with her bosom draped in a gown secured by a brooch. Six stars are to the left and seven to the right. The date is below. The reverse depicts an eagle perched on a branch and holding three arrows with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above and the denomination expressed as 50 CENTS below. E PLURIBUS UNUM no longer appeared on a scroll above the eagle.

Just 1,200 pieces of 1836 reeded edge half dollars were struck, and are rare in all grades today. The following year, some 3.6 million pieces were made, making them relatively plentiful today in all grades from Good through Extremely Fine. AU coins are a bit scarcer, and Uncirculated pieces are scarce. As with most early 19th century coins of any type, Superb Uncirculated coins are rare.

In 1838, the Capped Bust half dollar was restyled slightly, and the denomination on the reverse, earlier styled as 50 CENTS was revised to HALF DOL. Certain other changes were effected in the thickness of the reverse letters and the details of the eagle. For the first time, half dollars were struck at a branch mint, New Orleans. The 1838-O half dollar is one of America’s prime rarities. It is believe that just 20 were struck, nearly all of which had prooflike surfaces. In the following year, a more generous mintage of nearly 179,000 half dollars were struck at New Orleans. In a seeming show of pride, the mintmark was displayed above the date on the obverse.

The type set collector will probably seek an example of the 1838 or 1839 Philadelphia issue, each of which boasted a mintage of over 1 million pieces. Examples are readily available in grades from Very Good through Extremely Fine. AU coins are scarce, and Uncirculated pieces even more so. Superb Uncirculated coins are quite rare, and seldom seen or offered for sale.

'; break; case ( $year == 1839 ): $qty=2; $info='The Liberty Seated design, without motto on the reverse, was minted in the half dollar series from 1839 through 1866. The obverse features Liberty seated on a rock, holding in her left hand a liberty cap on a pole and with her right hand holding a shield inscribed LIBERTY. Thirteen stars surround the top border, and the date is at bottom. The reverse is similar to the preceding type, and consists of an eagle perched on an olive branch and holding three arrows, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above and HALF DOL. below.

This means that in 1839 two designs of the half dollar existed, namely the Capped Bust design and the Liberty Seated design. The Capped Bust continued to be minted throughout the year as the facilities changed their dies to make the new Liberty Seated design.'; break; case ( ($year > 1839) && ($year < 1892 ) ): $qty=1; $info='The Liberty Seated design, without motto on the reverse, was minted in the half dollar series from 1839 through 1866. Certain pieces dated 1853 and all dated 1854 and 1855 have arrows at the date and are different types, as discussed in the next section. The obverse features Liberty seated on a rock, holding in her left hand a liberty cap on a pole and with her right hand holding a shield inscribed LIBERTY. Thirteen stars surround the top border, and the date is at bottom. The reverse is similar to the preceding type, and consists of an eagle perched on an olive branch and holding three arrows, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above and HALF DOL. below.

Numerous variations exist throughout the series, including the absence of drapery from Liberty’s elbow on certain issues of 1839, different sizes of reverse lettering and different date numeral sizes. While there are some scarce varieties (notably the 1842-O Small Date, 1844-O Double Date, 1847/6) and some rare date/mm combinations (the Philadelphia issues of 1850-1852, 1855-S and the 1866-S No Motto) and even a major U.S. rarity (1853-O No Arrows) there are enough common dates that the type collector should have little difficulty in finding a nice affordable example in any desired grade from Good through About Uncirculated. Likewise Uncirculated examples are widely available, but truly superb examples above MS-66 are very rare.

The quality of striking is apt to vary from issue to issue, with those made in New Orleans being often lightly struck, particularly on the obverse stars.

In 1853 when the authorized weight of the half dollar was reduced from 206.25 grains to 192 grains, the change was noted on the coins by the addition of a small arrowhead to each side of the date and rays above the eagle on the reverse. Otherwise the Liberty Seated motif remained the same as used from 1839 onward. Just two varieties were produced: the 1853 Philadelphia issue of which 3,532,708 were made, and the 1853-O with a mintage of 1,328,000. Examples of the type are readily available in grades from Good through AU. Uncirculated coins are scarcer, while truly superb Uncirculated pieces (above MS-65) are rare.

The Liberty Seated half dollar style of 1854-1855 with arrows at date is the same as used in 1853 except that the reverse rays have been deleted. Thus, the 1854-55 halves stand as a distinct type. Coinage was produced primarily at Philadelphia and New Orleans. In 1855 the San Francisco Mint issued the denomination for the first time, striking 129,950 pieces. This remains the only rare mintmark variety in the date span. An interesting variation is provided by the 1855/4 overdate, a variety which exists in business strike form as well as proof.

Like the 1853 arrows and rays type, examples are readily available in all grades from Good to About Uncirculated. Uncirculated pieces are naturally scarce, but not as scarce as the "with rays" variety.

The regular Liberty Seated design, which had been in use since 1839 was modified in 1866 by the addition of IN GOD WE TRUST to the reverse. The motto appears on a scroll or ribbon above the eagle. A similar change was effected in the quarter and dollar denominations. Production was continuous at the Philadelphia mint from 1866 onward, though quantities struck after 1878 were sharply curtailed due to the production of Morgan Dollars. Business strikes were also made at San Francisco and Carson City, with several of the Carson City issues, particularly those made in the early 1870s, being rare today. The series boasts a major rarity as well, with the 1878-S costing mid-five figures, even in lower circulated grades. Certain half dollars of 1873 and all of 1874 again have arrows at the date, and are a separate type discussed in the next listing.

The "common" dates in the series are generally the Philadelphia and San Francisco issues of 1875-1877, and collectors should find them relatively easy to obtain in any grade from Good through MS-65 provided they’re willing to pay the price. Superb MS-66 and MS-67 examples, while around, are both costly and scarce. Proofs exist in proportion to their original mintages.

Part way through 1873 the authorized weight of the half dollar was increased slightly from 192 grains to 192.9 grains, the latter equaling precisely 12.5 grams. To signify this change, arrowheads were again placed to the left and right of the date, as had been done twenty years earlier when it signified a weight decrease. After 1874, even though the new weight standard remained the same, the arrows were no longer used. Otherwise, the Liberty Seated with IN GOD WE TRUST motto type is the same as that used from 1866 through 1891 inclusive.

As usual, the Philadelphia mint produced the lion’s share of coins during the 1873-74 years, so the type set collector normally gravitates towards one of these. Examples are available in grades from Good through Extremely Fine with little searching, although a Choice AU or Uncirculated piece will require a bit more time to locate. Superb Uncirculated pieces are tough with only about a dozen certified by PCGS above MS-65. One rare business strike exists in the series: the 1874-CC, of which just 59,000 were minted, and it is estimated that fewer than 200 survive today.'; break; case ( ($year > 1891) && ($year < 1916 ) ): $qty=1; $info='In 1892 the half dollar was redesigned to the so-called Barber type. Designer Charles E. Barber’s Miss Liberty now faces right, her hair is in a Phrygian cap, and a wreath of laurel encircles her head. The word LIBERTY appears on a small band or ribbon above her forehead. IN GOD WE TRUST is above, six stars are to the left, seven stars are to the right, and the date is below. The reverse is an adaptation of the Great Seal of the United States and features a heraldic eagle grasping an olive branch and arrows and holding in its beak a ribbon inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM. A galaxy of stars is above. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR surround. The same head of Miss Liberty appears on dimes and quarters of the era.

Mintage was continuous at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints from 1892 through 1915, with additional pieces supplied from New Orleans through 1909 and from Denver beginning in 1906. Unlike the Barber Quarter series, which has some genuinely tough coins, there are no significant rarities in the Barber Half series, although the 1892-O, 1892-S, 1893-S, 1897-O. 1897-S, 1914 and 1915 will be tougher to locate.

The type set collector will encounter no difficulty in acquiring specimens in grades of Good or Very Good. Fine pieces, believe it or not, are scarce. Very Fine coins are very scarce and Extremely Fine coins can be called rare in the context of modern issues. AU coins are rarer yet, Uncirculated pieces are still more rare, and superb Uncirculated pieces are very rare. Proofs exist in proportion to their original mintages, which like the quarters, typically ran in the neighborhood of 500 to 900 pieces per year.

One of the reason for the scarcity of high grade circulated pieces, is once the coins entered circulation, they tended to remain there many years, and the few XFs and AUs that remained, were often "enhanced" in the 1960s and 1970s and sold as Uncs (Unc means Uncirculated in numismatic lingo).'; break; case ( ($year > 1915) && ($year < 1948 ) ): $qty=1; $info='In 1916 the design of Adolph A. Weinman was selected for the new half dollar motif to replace the Barber design which had been in use since 1892. Weinman, a sculptor, also produced the Liberty Head or "Mercury" dime introduced the same year.

The obverse depicts Miss Liberty walking toward the sun, her right arm outstretched, her left arm carrying a bundle of branches, and with a starry cape behind. LIBERTY is above, while IN GOD WE TRUST is to the lower right, and the date is below. The motif seems to have been inspired by Saint-Gaudens’ motif for the illustrious double eagle of 1907. The reverse shows an eagle perched on a rocky crag, from which grows a pine branch, symbol of strength. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is above, E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left, and HALF DOLLAR is below.

During the first two years of issue, the mintmark appeared on the obverse, beneath the motto "In God We Trust." Midway through 1917, it was moved to the reverse, near the edge at the 7 o’clock position resulting in both "Obverse" and "Reverse" mintmark varieties for that year. While there are no extreme rarities in the series, most issues before 1934 are scarce, particularly the issues of 1919 and 1921. Two "short" sets are popular, one including only the issues from 1934-1947, and the other only those from 1941 to 1947.

Specimens of the Liberty Walking half dollar are readily available for the type collector, with those dated in the 1940s being most easily found. Grades available range from Good through superb Uncirculated, although sharply struck pieces are decidedly scarce. Proofs were minted from 1936 through 1942 and are available in proportion to the original mintages.

The design has been a favorite with numismatists ever since the time of issue, and many consider it to be one of the most beautiful motifs ever employed on a circulating coin.'; break; case ( ($year > 1947) && ($year < 1964 ) ): $qty=1; $info='In 1948, John R. Sinnock, chief engraver of the Philadelphia Mint, produced a new design for the half dollar, to replace the Liberty Walking motif, which had been in use since 1916. The Franklin half dollar depicts a head and shoulders portrait of Franklin on the obverse, facing right, with LIBERTY above and IN GOD WE TRUST below. The date is to the right. The reverse depicts the Liberty Bell with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above and HALF DOLLAR below. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the left while a small eagle is to the right, fulfilling the requirement of the Coinage Act of 1792 that an eagle appear on the reverse of all silver coins (that requirement was relaxed somewhat in 1837, when the half dime and dime were exempted.)

At the time of issue, the design was criticized by many, perhaps because it is rather plain in comparison to the classic Liberty Walking style. However, in recent years Franklin half dollars have emerged as popular pieces, and today are highly desired by numismatists.

The type set collector can easily obtain a business strike in any desired grade from Very Fine to superb Uncirculated, although sharply struck Uncirculated pieces showing full bell lines on the reverse and other minutely detailed areas are elusive for some issues. Proofs were minted from 1950 through 1963 and are available in proportion to their original production quantities.'; break; case ($year > 1963): $qty=1; $info='Following the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in November 1963, plans were made to memorialize the popular president on circulating half dollars. Gilroy Roberts, chief engraver of the Mint, designed the obverse. The reverse was the work of Frank Gasparro. The obverse design depicts the head of Kennedy facing left, with LIBERTY above and to the sides, and the date below. IN GOD WE TRUST is in a straight line above the date. The reverse is an adaptation of the Great Seal of the United States and is reminiscent of the Heraldic Eagle style used on gold and silver coinage of the early 19th century.

The Kennedy half dollar captured the public's imagination, and pieces sold at a premium from the very moment of release. Soon the premiums subsided, but despite mintages of hundreds of millions of coins, few were used in the channels of commerce. Subsequently, the half dollar became an obsolete denomination so far as everyday use is concerned. Still, large quantities were produced, although mintage figures trended downward over a period of time. 1964, the silver content was reduced, thus making 1964 the only year Kennedy half dollar composed of 90% silver were stuck.

Specimens today are readily available in Uncirculated and Proof finishes.'; break; } // End the switch statement echo '


'; if ($year > 1794) { $previousyear = $year-1; echo 'Previous US half dollar '.$previousyear.''; } if ( ($year > 1794) && ($year < $curYear) ) { echo "  |  "; } if ($year < $curYear) { $nextyear = $year+1; echo 'Next US half dollar '.$nextyear.'

'; } if ($qty > 1) { for ($a = 1; $a < $qty; $a++) { echo '

'; } // End for loop } // End if statement echo $info; //Print the info based on the year the coin was made. ?>