The Seated Liberty design was first seen
on the silver dollar in 1836, joined soon thereafter on all other
coinage. The half dollar was the last denomination to bear the
design, starting in late 1839.
In her left, she grasped a pole topped off by a liberty cap. In an era when much of the world was
subjected to tyranny,
this was a sign that most Americans lived in freedom.
While This Coin Was Minted...
A view of the Coining Room at the Philadelphia Mint in
1861. A passageway in the middle of the room is separated from
the machines on both sides by a neat iron fence. Visitors can see
every thing from this passageway. There are eight presses, all
turned by a steam engine at the further end of the room. These
machines produced millions of Seated Liberty coins. This image
appeared in a feature article on coin making in the Dec 1861 edition of
There are a few legendary rarities in the Seated
Liberty Half Dollar series. Fewer than five of the 1853-O No Arrow or Rays variety are
exist. One example came onto the October 2006 marketplace in
VF-35 and sold for $368,000. A single example of the 1866 No
Motto half dollar was minted, and has a similar
history to the No Motto quarter and silver dollar. The 1878-S
is another virtually unobtainable Seated Liberty Half Dollar.
Uncirculated specimens can bring about $100,000. Finally, there
is the lone 1861-O "Proof" half dollar, a Civil War relic with a unique
history. We have the its story here.
We could have listed perhaps a few more worthy
dates (all of the Carson
City dates are tempting), but we settled on these because of their
superior records of value increases. Not many half dollars
were minted at Philadelphia from 1878 to 1890, because the law
requiring vast numbers of Morgan
Silver Dollars diverted much of the Mint's resources away
from smaller silver coin production. All of them are rare and
evoke passion from collectors.