Coin Specifications

Category: Barber Half Dollars (1892-1915)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 934,000
Catalog: KM-116
Obverse Designer: Charles E. Barber
Reverse Designer: Charles E. Barber
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $6.83 (8/24/2016)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1892 50C MS obverse 1892 50C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The mintage for Philadelphia half dollars was recorded as 934,000 pieces in 1892, and many were saved as the first of their kind. After all, it had been since 1839 when the half dollar had seen a major design change. Apparently, this new Barber design was well received by the public. Nevertheless, time and attrition take their inevitable toll and very few of these early Barber half dollars remain in Gem condition.

Mint Director J. P. Kimball placed his considerable influence behind the passage of what became the Mint Act of September 26, 1890. This Act specified that coin designs could be changed after they had been in use 25 years. Minor silver coinage came up for possible change in 1891. A circular requesting proposals was sent to 10 of America's premier sculptors which failed to produce the desired results. Thus, the Treasury opened the competition to the public, but one of the judges was Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber. 300 entries were submitted, but none were thought worthy of a prize, and only two received Honorable Mention. Barber submitted his own design, which was adopted for coinage in 1892, on dimes, quarters and half dollars. The obverse depicts Liberty as a mirror image of the current Morgan silver dollar, with a laurel wreath on her head, and her hair tucked up under her cap instead of cascading onto her shoulders as on the silver dollar. Barber adapted the reverse design from the Great Seal, very similar to what Robert Scot had done 91 years earlier on silver and gold coinage. The only change was in the array of stars over the eagle's head, randomly placed instead of in the shape of the Star of David pattern from the Great Seal, or in rows as Robert Scot had done on the Draped Bust coinage. Barber's design continued for 25 calendar years, when the new Walking Liberty half dollars were released in late 1916.

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


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/17/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1892 50C MS
Base $ 29.00 40.00 75.00 135 230 370 400 440 475 515 625 750 1030 1500 3250 5350 18500 42250 - -
$ 250 - 420 465 500 - 685 800 1130 1880 3500 7640 24500 -

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Total Graded: 989
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 61
High Grade: 68

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
12/10/2009 NGC MS 64   David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 435, 441/Lot# 8425 $885.50
9/4/2011 PCGS MS 65   Prooflike Goldberg September 4-6, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction, 65/Lot# 1311 $2,070.00
4/22/2012 NGC MS 63   Prooflike GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 04/22/2012, 19/Lot# 47049 $754.60
6/11/2012 NGC G 6   Teletrade Auction 3292, 3292/Lot# 1517 $24.00
4/24/2013 NGC Details UNC Details  Heritage Auctions 2013 April 24 - 28 CSNS US Coin Signature Auction - Chicago Session(8), 1184/Lot# 8417 $646.25
1/5/2014 NGC AU 55   Prooflike Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131402/Lot# 22199 $340.75
  NGC MS 64   Bonhams $1,755.00
8/18/2015 NGC AU 58   Stack's Bowers 2015 Chicago ANA, 6104/Lot# 42453 $440.63
10/25/2015 NGC XF 40   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131544/Lot# 21203 $211.50
4/27/2016 PCGS MS 64   Prooflike Heritage Auctions 2016 April 27 - May 1 CSNS US Coins Signature Auction - Chicago Session(1), 1234/Lot# 3561 $940.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1892 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 63
Points: 1735
Owner: Scott mathison
Grade: MS 63
Points: 1258
Owner: tom7422
View the Registry Image Gallery

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