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: $5.75 (10/6/2015)
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: 9/16/2015

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 - 725 950 1225 - 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: 1094
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
6/9/1999 NGC MS 63   Teletrade Auction 1173, 1173/Lot# 1551 $2,193.50
5/31/2004 PCGS AU 53   Goldberg May 31 - June 2, 2004 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 25/Lot# 728 $488.75
6/17/2010 NGC AU 50   Stack's Bowers The June 2010 Baltimore Auction, 41/Lot# 2308 $289.80
1/16/2011 NGC VF 30   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 211014/Lot# 26204 $155.25
8/11/2011 NGC MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2011 August Chicago Signature US Coin & Platinum Night Auction Session(2), 1158/Lot# 3972 $2,990.00
5/30/2012 PCGS AU 55   Heritage Auctions 2012 May 30- June 3 US Coins Signature Auction- Long Beach Session(4), 1171/Lot# 8878 $817.65
1/12/2014 NGC Details XF Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 01/12/2014, 180/Lot# 154363 $192.50
8/24/2014 PCGS AU 50   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 818, 827/Lot# 800 $565.00
7/19/2015 PCGS Genuine XF   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131530/Lot# 27207 $141.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1853 ARROWS & RAYS 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 4217
Owner: BillJones
Grade: MS 61
Points: 2268
Owner: JTO
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