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The Seated Liberty portrait designs appeared on most regular-issue silver United States coinage during the mid- and late nineteenth century, from 1836 through 1891. Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated motif, used on half dimes from 1837 through the end of the series in 1873, was struck in 1837 at the Philadelphia Mint and the following year at the New Orleans Mint, without obverse stars, thus isolating these two issues as a separate type. In 1838 a semicircle of 13 stars was added around the obverse border, and this basic design was used through 1859. In 1853, small arrows were added to each side of the date to reflect a reduction in weight due to rising silver prices, and the arrows remained in place through 1855. The arrows were dropped in 1856, with the earlier design resumed through 1859. In 1860, the obverse stars were replaced with the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the reverse wreath was enlarged.
In 1853 the Liberty Seated design was modified by the addition of arrowheads to the left and right of the date to signify a decrease in the authorized weight from 20.625 grains to 19.200 grains. These arrows remained in place through 1855, after which they were discontinued, although the reduced weight remained in effect.
Engraver: Christian Gobrecht
Depicts the figure of Liberty clad in a flowing dress and seated upon a rock. In her left hand, she holds a Liberty pole surmounted by a Phrygian cap, which had been a pre-eminent symbol of freedom during the movement of Neoclassicism (and in fact traces its roots back to Ancient Greece and Rome). Liberty's right hand rested on the top corner of a striped shield with a diagonal banner inscribed with the word "Liberty". The shield represented preparedness in the defense of freedom. The date of the coin appeared on the bottom below Liberty. Thirteen six-pointed stars around the rim, commemorating the original thirteen colonies. The arrows on both sides of the date mean that the coin weight was reduced.
Depicts a wreath around the words HALF DIME. This wreath consisted of laurel leaves, a traditional Neoclassical image.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA