Ample Mintages But Scarce Varieties

January 15th, 2013  |  Published in Silver Coins

The Capped Bust style obverse design was introduced for the half dollar denomination in 1807. The design featured a rendition of Liberty wearing a cap secured at the base with a ribbon which is inscribed “Liberty” and tresses falling to her shoulder. Her lower neck area is partially draped with a gown, secured by a broach at the shoulder. A pattern of seven and six stars appear to either side. The reverse features a heraldic style eagle with inscriptions surrounding.

Mintages were relatively high since the half dollar represented the largest silver denomination produced at the time, creating ample demand for production. Collectors generally seek to specialize by pursuing die varieties of the series. Since the stars and inscriptions were all applied by hand, multiple varieties exist for each date, many of these are rare and can command significant premiums.

Some of the more famous varieties include over dates whereby older dies were punched with new digits to reflect a different year. The underlying numbers are still visible and serve to identify the varieties. The 1817/4 over date can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars for the few pieces that have been identified and preserved by collectors.

The steam power press was introduced starting in 1836, which resulted in a half dollar of smaller diameter, which was also slightly redesigned. Staring in this era of mass production, varieties became transitional in nature, such as when the edge was changed from lettered to reeded and for the final date of the series when a different reverse design was utilized on a small number of coins.

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