Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 3,532,708
Catalog: KM-79
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.4400g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $5.97 (5/6/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1853 ARROWS & RAYS 50C MS obverse 1853 ARROWS & RAYS 50C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The vast quantities of gold that flooded the eastern United States in the late 1840s had a deleterious effect on the country's silver coins. As the price of the staple coinage metal rose sharply when reckoned in terms of gold dollars, it was not long before speculators started their usual hoarding and/or melting practices. By 1850, there were few coins in circulation between the lowly cent and the gold dollar. In an effort to rectify this grave coinage situation, Mint Director George N. Eckert proposed that Congress lower the weights of the silver coins to ensure that their face value remained above their bullion value. Despite reservations, Congress authorized this plan in the Mint Act of February 21, 1853. The half dollar's new weight was 12.44 grams, a sufficient enough reduction from its former weight of 13.36 grams to ensure that the denomination remained in circulation. To distinguish these new half dollars from their predecessors, Eckert ordered that arrows be placed on either side of the date and rays added around the eagle. With these features, the Philadelphia Mint delivered the first 80,000 examples of its lighter half dollar on May 21. By the end of the year, a respectable total of 3,532,708 specimens were produced by the parent mint alone.

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


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 11/24/2014

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

Base $ 38.00 50.00 75.00 120 290 565 675 850 1125 1700 2375 3850 5750 26000 67500 95000 - - -
$ 320 615 725 950 1225 1850 2800 4300 6750 29000 - - -

The World Coin Price Guide is independently compiled by Krause Publications’ NumisMaster. NGC makes this information available to its website visitors as a free service, but in no way does the information provided represent NGC’s official opinion or policy. For example, varieties listed in the World Coin Price Guide may not necessarily be recognized by NGC. Please contact NGC Customer Service with any questions.

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Total Graded: 1068
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 66

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/27/2006 NGC MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 115: The Eagle One Sale, 120/Lot# 5308 $4,600.00
2/10/2008 NGC AU 55   Goldberg February 10-13, 2008 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 44/Lot# 2181 $529.00
3/31/2011 NGC MS 64   Stack's Bowers The March 2011 Baltimore Auction, 83/Lot# 1983 $19,550.00
1/9/2013 PCGS XF 40   Heritage Auctions 2013 January 9-13 US Coin FUN Signature Auction - Orlando Session(8), 1181/Lot# 10512 $258.50
1/21/2013 NGC XF 40   Teletrade Auction 3414, 3414/Lot# 1780 $100.00
3/17/2013 PCGS XF 45   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/17/2013, 66/Lot# 101088 $330.00
4/24/2013 PCGS MS 66   Heritage Auctions 2013 April 24 - 28 CSNS US Coin Signature Auction - Chicago Session(5), 1184/Lot# 4272 $76,375.00
6/30/2013 PCGS Genuine AU   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/30/2013, 81/Lot# 121981 $234.30

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1853 ARROWS & RAYS 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 4217
Owner: BillJones
Grade: MS 61
Points: 2240
Owner: jacmitch
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