Collecting The Seated Liberty Half Dime

April 18th, 2013  |  Published in Coin Series

The seated liberty half dime looms large within the history of United States coinage with 66 years in active production. For an early coin this is a daunting number of different issues to assemble for a collection. However, it’s rich history and challenge may win over some ardent collectors.

The denomination was a constant companion to pioneers of the old west, grizzled prospectors, and even Civil War soldiers. The string of different designs means that the coins changed hands during a multitude of situations and across a sweeping array of historical times. The half dime was actually the first denomination officially minted by the US government in 1792.  The seated liberty on the heads side of the half dime only appeared in 1836.

For a span of seven years between 1866 and 1873, there were two different official coins worth five cents: the silver half dime and the nickel. This period marked the transition for the denomination from precious metal to base metal in response to widespread hoarding during the Civil War years. The transition was completed in 1873, leaving only the Shield Nickel.

There are three variations in addition to the standard. These coins experienced limited runs, and include the flowing hair, the draped bust, and the capped bust half dime. Only the longer lived seated liberty version was minted in three locations: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New Orleans.

Obviously, the best coins for collecting are rated into the Very Fine condition. These coins will include on the shield side, most of the word Liberty, as well as a clearly readable date and other legends. The image of Lady Liberty will retain some detail in the hair, drapery, and face. At this grade level, pieces may be affordable and also provide a great idea of the original design. Since these coins will have circulated, you never know how might have spent them during their long history!

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