Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: New Orleans
Mintage: 2,532,633
Catalog: KM-A68
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.4400g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $5.14 (11/26/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1861 O 50C MS obverse 1861 O 50C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The 2012 Guide Book has this to say concerning the recorded mintage of 2,532,633 1861-O Seated Liberty half dollars: 'The 1861-O quantity includes 330,000 struck under the United States government, 1,240,000 for the State of Louisiana after it seceded from the Union, and 962,633 after Louisiana joined the Confederate States of America. As all these 1861-O coins were struck from U.S. dies, it is impossible to distinguish one from another. They should not be confused with the very rare Confederate half dollar of 1861 which has a distinctive reverse.'

Breen reports in his Complete Encyclopedia that 'no records survive about issue of the 1861-O proof half dollars, the most likely occasions for making these would have been inception of coinage for Louisiana and for the CSA. What is known, however, is that in April 1861, Confederate Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger issued orders that new designs for a Confederate half dollar be submitted to him for approval. Clearly, these 1861-O specimen half dollars owe their existence to the need to commemorate an event before the new Confederate dies were ready. (Or the reverse die, as it turned out, the Confederate half dollars reused a Union obverse die, identifiable by a die crack from rim to the bridge of the nose.) The Confederate mint closed at the end of April 1861. Examining the timeline, it is known that the first delivery of 333,000 half dollars was struck under U.S. authority. As such--since half dollars had been struck in New Orleans for decades--there would have been no need for a special commemoration of the Union striking. The specimen 1861-O halves thus clearly were intended as a commemoration of the March striking of 1,240,000 half dollars under authority of the State of Louisiana. After all, it appears that the intent, at least, was to produce custom-made dies for the Confederate strikings, once the dies were prepared and approved.

Walter Breen's Proof Encyclopedia gives a provenance of six proof or specimen examples, of which two may be duplicates, for a total of only four individual coins known.

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.

1861 O 50C MS
Base $ 33.00 50.00 65.00 110 210 330 380 460 555 800 1250 1500 2700 6250 15000 - - - -
$ - - 420 515 590 - 1375 1650 3100 6750 16500 - -

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Total Graded: 327
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 66

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
2/5/2006 NGC MS 61   Goldberg February 5-8, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 34/Lot# 143 $661.00
4/2/2012 NGC F 15   Teletrade Auction 3252, 3252/Lot# 1389 $55.00
6/17/2012 NGC Details XF Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/17/2012, 27/Lot# 31135 $143.00
2/22/2013 PCGS   Stack's Bowers The March 2013 Baltimore Auction, 181/Lot# 7200 $179.78
8/17/2014 PCGS VG 8   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 817, 826/Lot# 1183 $120.00
8/10/2014 NGC Details XF Details  Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131433/Lot# 25273 $146.88
2/1/2015 NGC Details AU Details  Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131506/Lot# 24153 $164.50

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1861 O 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 53
Points: 1002
Owner: tooch
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