Draped Bust Half Dollars, 1796-1807

Draped Bust Half Dollars, 1796-1807

Early Half-Dollars were issued in three distinct Varieties similar to the Half Dime of the same period, all of which were designed by Robert Scot. These Varieties include:

  • 1794-1795 Flowing Hair Type
  • 1796-1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle Reverse Type
  • 1801-1807 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle Reverse Type

In 1794 and 1795, Liberty with flowing hair was combined with a reverse portraying a small eagle. In 1796 and 1797, the small eagle reverse was retained, while a draped bust of Liberty was used for the obverse. From 1801 to 1807, the draped bust obverse was reinstated while the reverse depicted a larger, heraldic eagle. Many engraving Varieties are known because, at the time, the Mint was under great pressure to replace Spanish and Mexican fractional silver coins then in circulation.

In contrast to most minor silver issues of the day, hundreds of thousands of Early Halves were coined. The only exceptions to this were the reduced mintages of 1794, 1801, 1802 and the tiny number of draped bust, small eagle pieces coined in 1796 and 1797. Only 3,918 coins were produced in those two years, which represents the entire production of the Variety. Today, these very rare pieces are in tremendous demand from type coin dealers and collectors alike, with commensurately high values placed upon them.

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