Coin Specifications

Category: Early Halves (1794-1839)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 47,150
Catalog: KM-37
Obverse Designer: John Reich
Reverse Designer: John Reich
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.8920
Weight: 13.4800g
ASW: 0.3866oz
Melt Value: $7.89 (8/1/2014)
Diameter: 32.5mm
Edge: FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1815/2 50C MS obverse 1815/2 50C MS reverse


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Description & Analysis

The American Revolution, while establishing our de facto independence from Great Britain, failed to secure our economic autonomy from the British Empire. This situation was mildly tolerable to the United States until Napoleon Bonaparte toppled one European nation after another during the opening decade of the 19th century. The heightened tension between England and the European continent spilled over to sour Britain's relationship with her former North American colony. As more and more American ships fell victim to the Royal Navy's blockade of the European mainland and President Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807 failed to reverse the declining economic plight of our merchants, Americans were left with no other choice but to demand immediate, decisive action. Led by the War Hawks in Congress, the United States finally declared war against Great Britain on June 18, 1812.

Instead of improving America's economic standing overnight, however, the war effort sent matters from bad to worse. As the American public resorted to the strict use of bullion in their daily transactions, paper money fell into disuse and, not surprisingly, gold and silver coins began to disappear from circulation in ever growing numbers. The British invasion and destruction of Washington, D.C. in 1814 only exacerbated the problem and widespread hoarding became the norm. The half dollar, the staple denomination of the United States banking system since President Thomas Jefferson suspended coinage of the silver dollar in 1803, was one of the hardest hit by this alarming turn of events. Since the Philadelphia Mint received no silver bullion deposits throughout most of 1815, its half dollar presses sat idle. Meanwhile, stunning American military victories, combined with Britain's mounting share of the war effort in Europe, resulted in the Treaty of Ghent. Signed on December 24, 1814, this treaty ended the War of 1812 and bound both the United States and Great Britain to accept the status quo ante. As communications in the early 19th century were not what they are today, the news of peace failed to reach North America before U. S. and British forces clashed at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. Despite Andrew Jackson's stunning success in the battle and the crowning achievement of peace that followed in its wake, the economic situation in the United States returned to normal very slowly. It would take until the end of the year before citizens deposited sufficient quantities of silver bullion to enable the Philadelphia Mint to resume half dollar coinage. The Mint's staff hurriedly grabbed a pair of old 1812 dies, punched a 5 over the 2, and coined 47,150 1815 half dollars. This meager mintage proved to be the lowest of the entire Capped Bust half dollar series.

Born out of the turmoil of the War of 1812, this low mintage half dollar actually came within a hair's breath of being preserved by a future war. During the Civil War, the New Harmony Society of Economy, Pennsylvania buried vast quantities of Capped Bust half dollars to prevent them from falling into the hands of marauding rebel cavalry. Discovered in 1878, the Economite Hoard yielded 111,356 Capped Bust half dollars, a total that included at least a hundred examples of the elusive 1815. The discovery, however, proved to be a Pyrrhic victory for modern numismatists as the coins were harshly scrubbed and placed into circulation! Today, while sliders and impaired pieces exist in sufficient enough quantities to satisfy less fickle numismatists, original, high grade Mint State survivors are rare and always in great demand.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 12/4/2013

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1815/2 50C MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 1775 2100 3150 4400 6150 6150 8750 10500 14000 17500 19500 23500 26500 30000 50000 87500 130000 - - - -
$ 6700 9750 11500 15500 19000 21500 25500 28500 33000 117500 125000 182125 - -
NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 226
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 65


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
2/11/2003 PCGS XF 45   Heritage Auctions Exclusively Internet Auction #23023, 23023/Lot# 11362 $2,760.00
8/10/2003 PCGS AU 50   Teletrade Auction 1763, 1763/Lot# 1113 $4,620.00
3/3/2008 NGC XF 45   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 225, 231/Lot# 3095 $5,865.00
4/28/2009 NGC MS 66   Heritage Auctions 2009 April-May Cincinnati, OH (CSNS) US Coin Auction #1124, 1124/Lot# 2415 $97,750.00
3/17/2011 PCGS XF 45   Heritage Auctions 2011 March Sacramento Signature ANA US Coin Auction Session(3), 1153/Lot# 4435 $6,325.00
3/31/2011 NGC AU 50   Stack's Bowers The March 2011 Baltimore Auction, 83/Lot# 1876 $6,900.00
9/4/2011 PCGS AU 53   Goldberg September 4-6, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction, 65/Lot# 1200 $9,487.50
4/29/2013 NGC VF 20   Teletrade Auction 3428, 3428/Lot# 1676 $2,937.50
6/29/2014 PCGS   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/29/2014, 187/Lot# 139226 $1,500.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1815/2 50C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base1127115581799200926142960326036153826411442904694574768209307105151129418793257083580950757
42413661638186922102729306033783685392241724424504561047649970910774137932109829075407910
00000030603378368539224172442450456104764997091077413793210982907500
000000316034963755401842314559539664628478101121103416293234033244200
1815/2 50C MS Prooflike
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base1111111111111111111111
1111111111111111111110
0000001111111111111100
0000001111111111111100
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 66
Points: 13793
Owner: Heartland Collection
 
Grade: AU 50
Points: 3260
Owner: goldsaint
 
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