Learn About Silver-Copper 1794–1795 Flowing Hair Half Dimes
The Flowing Hair Half Dime was actually the first silver coin worth five cents but it was the second half dime created. The first of the very limited “Half Disme” of 1792, created especially for George Washington, reportedly used silver from a silver tea service that belonged to Martha. Due to its very limited mintage, the 1792 Half Disme is really a pattern coin and not a regular issue.
The Flowing Hair variety of Half Dime was designed by Chief Engraver of the US Mint Robert Scot. Scot used the same exact design on both the half dollar and one dollar silver coins of 1794 and 1795. There is no denomination so the size and weight of the coin determine the denomination. Unlike ALL later silver coins, this issue was comprised of .8924 Fine Silver mixed with .1076 Copper. Remember that the fledgling US mint was still trying to determine the proper “mix” for our country’s silver coinage.
Scot’s design was simple itself. The obverse had a simple Miss Liberty facial design, looking upward, and facing to the right. Above her was the motto “LIBERTY” and below her was the date “1794.” She is surrounded by 15 stars – 8 to the left and 7 to the right.
There was an American eagle with wings spread holding a wreath in her talons. The wreath surrounds her and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The design is beautiful in its simplicity. It is thought that 7,756 of these 1794-dated Half Dimes were actually struck in March of 1795. The Red Book (A Guide Book of United States Coins) does not state an actual mintage figure but simply states that 86,416 of 1794 and 1795 dated coins were struck, according to the records of the US Mint.
There is no difference in the design at all between the 1794 and 1795 half dimes, except for the date. The strikes of both of these coins tend to be weak or irregular. The Mint was still learning the proper amount of pressure to use on these small, thin silver planchets and that clearly shows in the coins that they produced. As you can see in the above coin (graded MS-62 by PCGS) the breast feathers on the eagle are often missing. Coins are unevenly struck, and dies are often rotated.
Some planchets actually weigh too much and needed to be “adjusted.” These coins have what are called “adjustment marks” on the planchets. Adjustment marks are long straight lines on the coin where a file was drawn across the coin to reduce the amount of silver in the coin itself. Adjustment marks are very common on US silver coins prior to about 1830. They do not reduce the coin’s grade or value on these early specimens.
The 1795-dated half dimes generally have a slightly better strike than their 1794-dated counterparts. But expect strikes to be uneven, possibly with strong centers and weak designs around the perimeter or vice versa. As the dies were striking more coins, cracks began to appear in the dies themselves and, as expected, on the coins.
Except in the uncirculated grades, this two-year type coin is still affordable to the serious collector and both coins could be purchased for about $10,000. These coins are magnificent pieces of historical Americana and relics of the George Washington presidential administration.
|Date||Type||Mintage||Fine Value||Unc Value|
|1794||Flowing Hair Half Dime||7,756*||$3,250||$20,000|
|1795||Flowing Hair Half Dime||78,660*||$2,350||$12,500|
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