Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: New Orleans
Mintage: 5,240,000
Catalog: KM-82
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.4400g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $5.09 (11/27/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1854 O ARROWS 50C MS obverse 1854 O ARROWS 50C MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

The two-year 1854 Arrows Seated half dollar issues followed the one-year Arrows and Rays Seated type, both styles indicating a reduction in the weight of the half dollar from 13.36 gm (used since the introduction of the Seated half dollar design in 1839) to 12.44 gm. Only the weight of the coin changed, the fineness, diameter, and design remained the same.

Though the amount of weight change might seem insignificant, the reduction was necessary for an important reason--to keep half dollars in circulation. The production of gold from California and other places in the late 1840s and throughout the 1850s flooded U.S. and world markets, enough to distort the ratio between gold and silver prices. Silver prices increased, which meant the bullion value of U.S. silver coins exceeded their face value. Brokers, speculators, and regular citizens hoarded the coins, many of which were eventually exported and melted. Silver coins virtually disappeared from circulation.

The Act of February 21, 1853, allowed Mint Director George N. Eckert to reduce the weight of the half dime, dime, quarter, and half dollar. On the 1853 half dollar, the change was indicated by the placement of arrowheads on both sides of the date, and by the addition of a sunburst of rays around the eagle on the reverse. The rays were problematic, compromising the ability of die makers to produce and maintain needed dies, and so were dropped from the 1854 issues. This example is well struck, though with minor softness in some of the details. Both sides are lustrous and covered by a warm russet patina with a trace of rose, and the obverse is peppered with dark toning highlights. 'Halos' are present around the obverse devices, a doubling phenomenon attributed to excessive striking force during production. The reverse shows die cracks, most obvious between the U of UNITED and the H of HALF.

The New Orleans Mint produced over 5 million Seated halves in 1854, and the type is relatively common in grades up to and including near-Gem.

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.

1854 O ARROWS 50C MS
Base $ 40.00 52.00 72.00 97.50 190 340 390 440 560 875 1275 2075 3025 9200 23000 55000 75000 - -
$ 225 - 420 490 610 - 1400 2275 3225 10000 26000 - -

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Total Graded: 715
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 68

Upcoming Auctions

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Auction House
Sale / Lot
12/6/2015 MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2015 December 3 - 6 Houston Money Show US Coins Signature Auction - Houston Session(1), 1227/Lot# 3188

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
7/21/2003 PCGS XF 40   Teletrade Auction 1755, 1755/Lot# 1362 $93.50
5/29/2011 NGC MS 63   Goldberg May 29 - June 1, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction of US, World Coins and Currency, 63/Lot# 823 $54,050.00
5/27/2012 PCGS MS 64   Bonhams Coins and Medals, 19995/Lot# 1055 $3,393.00
6/5/2013 PCGS MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2013 June 5 - 9 US Coin Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(3), 1186/Lot# 4513 $7,637.50
8/30/2013 PCGS AU 58   Stack's Bowers The September 2013 Philadelphia Auction, 195/Lot# 4506 $769.63
9/15/2013 NGC Details XF Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 09/15/2013, 92/Lot# 137855 $79.20
7/6/2014 NGC Details AU Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/06/2014, 188/Lot# 202458 $325.00
7/20/2014 PCGS AU 55   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 813, 822/Lot# 826 $501.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1854 O ARROWS 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 62
Points: 1852
Owner: JTO
Grade: MS 62
Points: 1852
Owner: mania
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