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The Seated Liberty Half Dollar represented the face of the denomination for much of the 19th century, with pieces struck from 1839 until 1891. The “Seated Liberty” design was an old concept that was based on Britannia, who had been featured on British coins. Artist Thomas Sully made a number of sketches, which assistant engraver Christian Gobrecht would modify to become suitable for coinage.
"Without Motto", on Seated Liberty Half Dollars, refers to the absence of the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" (which did not appear on the reverse of these coins until 1866). Numerous variations exist throughout the series, including the absence of drapery from Liberty’s elbow on certain issues of 1839, different sizes of reverse lettering and different date numeral sizes.
The 1853-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar without arrows and rays is an interesting and extremely rare variety that was created during one of the design changes for the series. No coins were reported as having been minted with these dies, making the variety’s existence somewhat of a mystery. The variety was discovered in 1881, and additional specimens were identified in 1892 and 1911. Incredibly, since then, not a single additional example has been located. Of the three known specimens, the finest is graded VF condition. This example sold at a Stack’s auction in October 2006 for $322,000. This coin represents the absolute key-date to a full set of Seated Liberty Half Dollars, and truly a coin which is only offered for sale with great irregularity, being one of the true American rarities.
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.
A left-facing bald eagle about to take flight, with a striped shield upon its breast. The eagle clutched an olive branch of peace in its right talons and a group of arrows in its left talons. Above the eagle around the rim were the words "United States of America" and below the eagle around the rim lay the coin denomination.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA