Seated Liberty Half Dollar (1839-1891): A Brief History
The obverse of the Seated Liberty Half Dollar features a graceful depiction of Lady Liberty seated on a rock, holding a shield in her right hand and a liberty pole topped with a Phrygian cap in her left. The reverse displays a majestic eagle with outstretched wings, clutching arrows and an olive branch in its talons, symbolizing the nation's military strength and desire for peace. These coins derive their name from the seated figure of Liberty on the obverse, offering a captivating portrayal of American ideals and values during the 19th century. The design was the work of Christian Gobrecht, an acclaimed engraver at the U.S. Mint.
Seated Liberty Half Dollars were minted in several locations, including Philadelphia (no mint mark), New Orleans (O mint mark), San Francisco (S mint mark), and Carson City (CC mint mark). The mint marks can typically be found below the eagle on the reverse side of the coin. Each mint location adds its own historical significance and potential rarity to the coins.
The weight and design of Seated Liberty Half Dollar varied over time yet the composition of 90% silver and 10% copper stayed the same. From 1839 to 1853, the weight of the coin was 13.36 grams and there was no motto above the eagle on the reverse. Starting in 1853, the weight was reduced due to the Coinage Act of 1853, resulting in 12.44 grams. Arrows placed around the date depicted this change. Just for the year 1953, rays were placed around the eagle and in 1954, the arrows were removed. From 1866 to 1873, the weight remained the same but the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added above the eagle. The years 1873 and 1874 saw another change in weight to 12.5 grams with arrows around the date. Finally, from 1875 to 1891, the weight remained the same and the arrows were removed.
Seated Liberty Half Dollars played a significant role in American history, witnessing the country's expansion, the Civil War, and the post-war era. They offer a tangible connection to the past and are sought after by both coin collectors and history enthusiasts. The value of these coins varies depending on factors such as year, mint mark, condition, and rarity. Scarce dates and those in exceptional condition command higher premiums among collectors. Some key dates and mint mark combinations are particularly coveted, adding excitement to the pursuit of these numismatic treasures.
Whether you're a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of coins, Seated Liberty Half Dollars hold a special place in the realm of numismatics. Their historical significance, stunning design, and silver content make them prized additions to any collection. Explore our selection of Seated Liberty Half Dollars and embark on a journey through time as you appreciate the artistry and allure of these extraordinary coins.