From the NGC Archives: 1859-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar

Posted on 3/17/2009

This half dollar is both unique and beautiful. Read on for more details, and visit NGC’s Coin Encyclopedia to learn more about other historically significant coins.

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Half dollars featuring Christian Gobrecht's classical seated figure of Liberty were first minted in 1839, and they remained in production as late as 1891. The half dollar is unique among the several denominations that shared this motif, as it alone did not receive the modifications for which sculptor Robert Ball Hughes had been temporarily hired in 1840. The reverse of this coin type features a rather conventional, heraldic eagle. Indeed, it is the same basic portrayal of the national bird that had been used since 1807.

On the eve of the Civil War, New Orleans was still one of the nation's most important seaports. Rivaled only by Charleston and New York, it was the point of entry for vast amounts of Latin American silver. From this bullion, the coin presented here was almost certainly made, as America's output of silver was quite limited until discovery of the Comstock Lode in, of all years, 1859! Rare in Mint State, this beautiful half dollar features superb, frosty luster and very clean surfaces. These help to make it a gem, but its splendid toning of amber, russet and aquamarine also contributes mightily.

Are you interested in Seated Liberty Half Dollars? Click here to visit the NGC Coin Encyclopedia and read more.