In 1895, the Gettysburg National Military Park had been established on the grounds of the battlefield. A century later, Congress decided to establish a battlefield preservation commission that would ensure that important historic battlefields were not developed into housing and the history was lost.
These unique coins are a product of their time in American history and a testament to the legacy that Barber left on the world of numismatics. His influence is felt throughout this era of U.S. coinage, and the struggle between his utilitarian vision and the more aesthetic vision of other designers set the stage for some of the most iconic U.S. coin issues of all time.
Adolph Weinman’s design shows Liberty walking and holding branches with an American flag over her shoulder and the sun behind her. The coins had a higher relief than many other coins of the time and striking was challenging.
The Franklin half dollar series was the last U.S. circulating half dollar to be made of 90% Silver for its entire run. After the 1964 Kennedy half dollar, Silver coins were not struck for circulation in 90% Silver. The half dollar was debased to 40%, and other Silver coins such as dimes and quarters were changed to cupro-nickel.
The half dollar has been struck with few interruptions from the beginning of U.S. coinage to the present day. These were sanctioned originally in the Coinage Act of 1792, and the half dollar has been one of the foundational coins of the U.S. monetary system for most of the time until it fell out of favor in the 20th century.