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Seated Liberty Half Dollars – Key Dates & Varieties

The Seated Liberty Half Dollar was designed by Christian Gobrecht and was minted between 1839 and 1891. It depicts Miss Liberty, seated, holding a shield and a cap on a pole. Above Miss Liberty are 13 six-pointed stars, and the date is below.  

The reverse depicts an eagle with a shield on its breast, while holding arrows and an olive branch in its talons. The motto “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” is above the eagle and the denomination “Half DOL.” is below. 

To read more about this coin series, take a look at our article on the history of Seated Liberty Half Dollars.

There are five basic types of Seated Liberty Half Dollars: 

Type I – No motto above the eagle        1839 to 1853
Type II – Arrows at date, rays around eagle1853
Type III – Arrows at date, no rays1854 to 1855
Type I Resumed1856 to 1866
Type IV – Motto above eagle1866 to 1873
Type V – Arrows at date1874 to 1875
Type IV Resumed1875 to 1891

Key Dates and Varieties

1839 Seated Half, No Drapery

This coin was the first Seated Liberty Half Dollar struck. This variety has no drapery from Miss Liberty’s gown at her left elbow. It is easy to discern this variety, as it is more obvious than most. 

1840-O Medium Letters on Reverse

The 1840-O coin from the New Orleans Mint has two varieties. The scarcer of the two has Medium Size Letters on the reverse. 

1842 Small Date, Reverse of 1839

The 1842 issue was struck using at least two pairs of dies. The easiest way to define each type is by comparing the size of the dates on the obverse, There is a Medium Date and a Small Date. The Small Date is the scarcer variety. 

1842-O Small Date, Reverse of 1839

As with the Philadelphia coin, the New Orleans coin has two major varieties – a Small Date and a Medium Date. The Small Date is the much scarcer of the two.

1844-O Doubled Date

The 1844 coins struck at the New Orleans Mint had a normal date and a doubled date. The doubled date is visible, even without magnification, as it is generally higher than the over-date.

1844-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar, Doubled Date

1846 6 Over Horizontal 6

The 1846 Seated Liberty Half Dollar saw over two million coins struck. A small portion of these coins were struck with dies where the “6” digit was horizontally placed rather than vertically. When this was discovered, a new “6” digit was then struck over the existing horizontal digit, as an attempt to correct the error. The ends of the “6” are visible underneath correctly-placed digit.

1846-O Tall Date

The 1846-O was struck in both a Medium and a Tall date. The digits in the Tall Date and taller than those of the Medium Date, which is the common variety. 

1847 7 Over 6

The 1847 over 6 overdate is truly a RARE coin. It is scarce and expensive in ALL grades. The “6” digit is clearly visible, underneath the “7”. 

1847 Over 6 Seated Liberty Half Dollar

1849 Doubled Date

This coin is affectionately known as the “dramatically doubled date,” which makes it easy to see and detect. Again, this is another coin that is very scarce in all grades. 


With a scant mintage of just 227,000 coins, this is a scarce coin, even in well-worn grades. By comparison, the New Orleans Mint in 1850 struck 2,456,000 coins – about 11 times the number of coins struck at Philadelphia. 


The 1851 dated coin struck at the Philadelphia Mint saw only 200,750 coins struck. With typical mintages in the 1 to 4 million range, this is another rare coin in all grades. 


The 1853-dated Philadelphia Mint coins only saw 77,130 coins struck. This incredibly low-mintage date makes this coin desirable in all grades and difficult to find. 


The 1852-O had 144,000 coins struck which makes it a scarce date coin and valuable in all grades. 

1853-O No Arrows, No Rays

There are only 4 known instances of this coin. Only a very well-heeled collection can afford this rarity. When one comes up for sale, it is a numismatic event! 


This is another scare key date coin. 129,950 coins were struck.


This is a very unusual date coin. The story is that while 2,532,633 total coins were struck, 330,000 coins were struck just before the Civil War broke out. Once the state of Louisiana was ceded from the Union, the employees went from Federal employees to State of Louisiana employee. A few months later when Louisiana joined the Confederacy, 962.633 coins were struck under the auspices of the Confederate States of America. The die varieties and die breaks determine which government struck them.

A Federal Government Issue, a State of Louisiana Issue, a Confederate States issue. 

1866-S, No Motto

With a mintage of only 60,000 coins struck, it is very tough to find in any grade.

1866 No Motto

This is not a regular issue of the US Mint. With only one coin known, even the finest collections disregard this coin as it is just not available at most any price.  


This is truly another key date coin with another tiny mintage of only 54,617 coins struck. These specimens are generally always well struck – when you can find an example. 


Much like its counterpart that is one year older (1870-CC), the 1871-CC has about triple the mintage but is still a very tough coin to locate, especially in grades higher than Very Fine.

1873 Open 3 Variety

The Philadelphia Mint struck an 1873 Open 3 and an 1873 Closed 3 varieties of coins. The Open 3 saw 214,200 coins struck and the Closed 3 saw nearly 600,000 coins struck. The Open 3 is rare in all grades and more expensive than one might expect. 

1873-S No Arrows Variety

This is truly a mythical coin. The US Mint records indicate that 5,000 coins without arrows were struck, but the coin has never appeared in any collection. Many wonder if they really exist.


Only 59,000 of these coins were reportedly struck. The focus at that time, for the Carson City Mint was Trade Dollars rather than Half Dollars. 


Only a slightly smaller mintage, 62,000, was struck, making this another key date coin. It is fairly valuable, especially in higher grades.

1878-S Seated Liberty Half

A true rarity with a mere 12,000 coins reportedly struck.

Many collectors collect varieties or simply date or year sets. Another popular collection is one of each of the various Types of Seated liberty Half Dollars struck by the Mints. In addition completing a collection of the 3 different 1861-O Mint coins struck under each government is doable and affordable for many collectors, depending on the grade.  

Values of Liberty Seated Half Dollars

Date MM Mintage Very Fine Abt Unc Ch Unc 
1839 No Drapery Included $2,000 $9,000 $30,000 
1840-O Med Ltrs Rev Included $1,600 $7,000 $12,500 
1842 Sm Date, Rev ‘39 Included $40,000 $60,000 $100,000 
1842-O Sm Date, Rev ‘39 Included $4,000 $12,000 $30,000 
1844-O Doubled Date Included $3,500 $7,000 $20,000 
1846 6 Over Horizontal 6 Included $1,750 $3,500 $9,000 
1846-O Tall Date Included $1,500 $6,250 $18,500 
1847 7 Over 6 Included $7,250 $21,000 $30,000 
1849 Doubled Date Included $3,000 $4,500 $10,000 
1850 227,000 $1,000 $1,750 $4,000 
1851 200,750 $2,000 $4,000 $5,000 
1852 77,130 $1,750 $3,500 $5,000 
1852-O 144,000 $1,400 $3,750 $13,500 
1853-O 4 Known $600,000 —– —- 
1855-S 129,950 $3,500 $15,000 $65,000 
1861-O CSA Obv, Die Crk Included $2,750 $17,500 $30,000 
1866-S, No Motto 60,000 $1,650 $5,500 $17,500 
1866 No Motto Unique! Priceless —– —– 
1870-CC 54,617 $9,000 $65,000 $200,000 
1871-CC 153,950 $3,500 $20,000 $85,000 
1873 Open 3 214,200 $7,500 $18,500 $125,000 
1873-S No Arrows Unknown 5,000 Strk Priceless —- 
1874-CC 59,000 $6,500 $17,500 $37,500 
1878-CC 62,000 $3,750 $12,000 $22,500 
1878-S 12,000 $75,000 $110,000 $150,000 
Common Date —- $125 $400 $875 

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