Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 228,000
Catalog: KM-107
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $7.10 (8/29/2014)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1873 S ARROWS 50C MS obverse 1873 S ARROWS 50C MS reverse


  
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Description & Analysis

On September 1, 1870, a large French army under the command of Marshal MacMahon tried desperately to relieve an allied force besieged in the fortress of Metz and thus save Paris from her enemies. During their northward march, the Prussian IV Corps, Royal Saxon XII Army Corps, and I Bavarian Corps harried the southern flank of MacMahon's army at Beaumont. Breech-loading field pieces deployed by Bavarian, Silesian, Hessian, and Saxon units then pinned the bulk of the French force against the Belgian frontier at Sedan and pounded them into submission. Among the 100,000 French prisoners taken by the Prussians was none other than the French Emperor Napoleon III. Two days later, another French Republic rose in Paris to fill the power vacuum created by the fall of the monarchy. Although it did not end the Franco-Prussian War immediately, the Battle of Sedan allowed the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to proclaim a crusade against the 'revolutionary contagion' that the new French Republic represented for all of Europe. This self-proclaimed crusade gained vital Russian and Austrian sympathy and paved the way for Bismarck's creation of the German Empire on January 1, 1871.

While the shots exchanged at the Battle of Sedan may not have been heard 'round the world, they certainly reverberated in the halls of the United States Mint. Following his unification of Germany, Bismarck reorganized the nation's currency and adopted a gold standard. On his orders, Germany dumped vast quantities of silver onto the international market. This had the deleterious effect of closing European markets to American silver. Mine owners and their political allies realized that one way to relieve America's growing backlog of silver was through increased domestic coinage. In addition to making Uncle Sam a constant buyer of his own silver, this proposal would also allow the federal government to replace the hated shinplasters of the Civil War with new dimes, quarters, and halves.

Despite noble intentions, the resulting Mint Act of February 12, 1873 failed to effect an immediate increase in half dollar production. In the intervening months between February, 1873 and the Mint Act of January 14, 1875, half dollar mintage figures remained at post-1861 levels. The 228,000 half dollars that the San Francisco Mint coined in 1873 with arrows at their dates fall into this ignominious category. Although often considered a 'type coin' by many who overlook any silver delivery that lacks a CC mintmark, the 1873-S is a scarce issue whose rarity in high grades equals that of the 1873-CC and 1874-CC.

Born in part out of the chaos of European warfare, many of the 1873-S Arrows halves perished in the equally dangerous world of the American frontier.

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: 10/29/2013

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1873 S ARROWS 50C MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 70.00 110 165 270 575 575 960 1200 1725 2400 2775 3200 4900 8000 19750 52500 - - - - -
$ 650 1050 1300 1875 2650 3050 3500 5300 9000 23000 65000 - - -
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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 44
Low Grade: G
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 65


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Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
7/15/1996 NGC XF 45   Teletrade Auction 0858, 858/Lot# 1473 $348.80
2/20/2005 PCGS AU 55   Goldberg February 20-23, 2005 Pre-Long Beach Coin Auction, 28/Lot# 1270 $2,012.50
1/9/2013 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2013 January 9-13 US Coin FUN Signature Auction - Orlando Session(4), 1181/Lot# 5651 $14,687.50
9/25/2013 PCGS XF 45   Heritage Auctions 2013 September 25 - 29 US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(7), 1189/Lot# 8327 $646.25
9/25/2013 PCGS VF 35   Heritage Auctions 2013 September 25 - 29 US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(7), 1189/Lot# 8325 $499.38
12/22/2013 PCGS VF 35   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 783, 792/Lot# 636 $550.00
1/8/2014 NGC XF 40   Heritage Auctions 2014 January 8 - 12 FUN US Coin Signature Auction - Orlando Session(7), 1201/Lot# 9041 $499.38
2/27/2014 PCGS Genuine AU   Heritage Auctions 2014 February 27 - 28 & March 2 Mid-Winter ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Atlanta Session(5), 1203/Lot# 7703 $528.75
6/9/2014 NGC F 12   Stack's Bowers iAuction 3485, 6034/Lot# 20381 $176.25


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