Description

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.

The regular Liberty Seated design, which had been in use since 1839 was modified in 1866 by the addition of IN GOD WE TRUST to the reverse. The motto appears on a scroll or ribbon above the eagle. In 1873, arrows once again appeared next to the date on the obverse. This time, indicating a slight increase in weight. The arrows once again were short-lived, and in 1875 the earlier design resumed and would remain in use until the series ended in 1891.

While the mintage of 12,000 coins for the 1878-S is not the lowest of the series, this issue represents the true key date of the later dates. Massive circulation took its toll on the limited mintage, and it is believed that only 50-60 specimens survive in all grades. In April 2009, an example graded PCGS MS64 sold at auction for $184,000.

Obverse

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.

LIBERTY
1876

Reverse

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 motto IN GOD WE TRUST on a ribbon and the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Below the eagle around the rim lay the coin denomination.

The bald eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting. Bald eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of the word, "white headed".

"In God We Trust" is the official motto of the United States. It was adopted as the nation's motto in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782.

The mint mark appears on the reverse beneath the eagle.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
HALF DOL.

Edge

1/2 Dollar

Seated Liberty Half Dollar, With Motto
KM# A99
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Characteristics
Material Silver
Fineness 0.900
Weight 12.5 g
Diameter 30.6 mm
Thickness -
Shape round
Alignment Coin
Mints
Carson City Mint (CC)
Philadelphia Mint (no mintmark)
San Francisco Mint (S)

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