Liberty Seated Half Dimes, 1837-1873

Liberty Seated Half Dimes, 1837-1873

Designed by Christian Gobrecht, the Liberty Seated Half Dime was issued from 1837 to 1873, with minor modifications producing five distinct Varieties. These include:

  • 1837-1838 Liberty Seated, No Stars Type
  • 1838-1840 Liberty Seated, No Drapery Type
  • 1838-1853, 1856-1859 Liberty Seated, With Stars Type
  • 1853-1855 Liberty Seated, Arrows at Date Type
  • 1860-1873 Liberty Seated, Legend Obverse Type

Despite the production of millions of these coins, they did not receive widespread circulation for two major reasons. First, as silver prices rose during the 1850’s, many were melted down for their bullion value. Second, widespread hoarding of all silver coins removed most Half Dimes from circulation from the time of the Civil War until specie payments were resumed in 1876. In 1853, the weight of the Liberty Seated Half Dime was reduced by 1/10th of a gram and from 1853 to 1855; arrowheads were added to each side of the date to signify the change. The Mint hoped that this reduction would enable the coins to remain in circulation, since bullion dealers had previously melted them for a profit. Of course, many other varieties were produced during the series’ 36-year tenure, including two transitional issues minted in 1859 and 1860 which do not bear the inscription, United States of America, and one issue coined in 1870 at San Francisco is the only known example to exist.

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