Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 550
Catalog: KM-107
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $5.69 (7/5/2015)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1873 ARROWS 50C PF obverse 1873 ARROWS 50C PF reverse

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Description & Analysis

The Crime of '73, as western mine owners labeled the Mint Act of February 12, 1873, was perhaps the most misguided coinage law in the history of the United States. In a vain effort to goad the American public to accept the metric system, the federal government decided that its silver coins could function as metric weights. Regardless of whether they were incompetent in coinage practices or simply chose to ignore the glaring contradictions of this proposal, Congressmen failed to recognize that coin planchets varied regularly enough to ensure that their use as standard weights was a pointless gesture. Nevertheless, based on this flimsy pretext, Congress increased the weight of the half dollar in early 1873 from 12.44 grams to 12.50 grams. A useless paper complication, the act failed to win popular acceptance from either the Bureau of the Mint or the American public. Since its standard practice was to accept all planchets that weighed within 0.2 grams of the approved weight, the Mint simply continued to use the old pre-1873 planchets without raising objections from the Assay Commission. The average American citizen did not even know about the change and public acceptance of the metric system today is no stronger than it was before the Crime of '73.

Despite its shortcomings at the time, the Mint Act of 1873 has several noteworthy effects as far as modern numismatists are concerned. First, it prompted the Mints to melt large quantities of the No Arrows silver coins dated 1872 and 1873. Second, it created yet another short-lived type within the Seated Liberty dime, quarter, and half dollar series. While most of the 1873-1874 issues are far from rare, their enormous desirability among type collectors will ensure their popularity for decades to come. With this in mind, we urge advanced numismatists to carefully consider the lovely gem specimen that we offer here. Many of the 550 proofs coined after the adoption of the Mint Act of 1873 were included in proof sets that the Mint sold to collectors at the time of issue. Although numerous pieces survive today, many of these have suffered from the crude effects of improper handling and/or surface alteration.

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


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Price Guide

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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: 139
Low Grade: 60
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 67

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
2/5/2006 PCGS PF 64   Goldberg February 5-8, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 34/Lot# 1487 $3,680.00
9/17/2008 NGC PF 66   Heritage Auctions 2008 September Long Beach, CA US Coin Signature Auction #1116, 1116/Lot# 2264 $19,550.00
1/18/2009 PCGS PF 62   Cameo Teletrade Auction 2641, 2641/Lot# 1508 $1,782.50
8/11/2011 NGC PF 67   Ultra Cameo Heritage Auctions 2011 August Chicago Signature US Coin & Platinum Night Auction Session(5), 1158/Lot# 7187 $48,875.00
1/9/2013 NGC PF 67   Ultra Cameo Heritage Auctions 2013 January 9-13 US Coin FUN Signature Auction - Orlando Session(4), 1181/Lot# 5688 $47,000.00
2/9/2014 PCGS PF 63   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 790, 799/Lot# 608 $3,550.00
3/28/2014 PCGS PF 63   Stack's Bowers March 2014 Baltimore Auction, 6008/Lot# 5388 $2,467.50
3/30/2014 PCGS PF 62   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/30/2014, 184/Lot# 164803 $1,279.30
7/4/2014 PCGS PF 62   Stack's Bowers iAuction 3489, 6040/Lot# 21280 $1,439.38

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1873 ARROWS 50C PF
1873 ARROWS 50C PF Cameo
1873 ARROWS 50C PF Ultra Cameo
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