Coin Specifications

Category: Early Halves (1794-1839)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 3,546,000
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 13.3600g
ASW: 0.3866oz
Melt Value: $6.55 (9/26/2017)
Diameter: 30mm
Edge: Reeded
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1838 50C MS obverse 1838 50C MS reverse


  
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Description & Analysis

For 1838's half dollar coinage, the value was spelled as HALF DOL. in place of the former 50 CENTS. This put it in conformance with the Seated Liberty Half Dime and Dime, as well as the soon-to-be-adopted SL Quarter Dollar. It seems that with minor adjustments to the design this value could have been spelled in full, but awkward abbreviations (by current standards) were a hallmark of the 19th Century. An accompanying increase in the size of the reverse legend aggravated the space limitation.

This year's half dollar production was similar to that of the preceding year, but it was still somewhat lower than in the waning years of lettered edge coinage. It may have been that the "Hard Times" of 1837-41 reduced the demand for additional coins. While Mint State survivors are not truly rare, gems are in quite limited supply.

The use of 13 obverse dies with a similar number of reverses produced a known total of 16 die marriages. As in 1837, none of these varieties is of interest to anyone but series specialists, and popular catalogs have but a single line devoted to this date. The only rare marriage is Graham/Reiver-5. A bisecting crack formed on this variety's reverse die and likely resulted in its early removal from the press. Dick Graham reported just three examples of GR-5, but the publication of his book may draw out a few more pieces.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 3/12/2015

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

1838 50C MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 68.00 83.00 100.00 150 250 425 465 625 975 1275 1375 1800 3150 5850 20000 37500 110000 - - -
$ 275 - 500 675 1050 - 1525 2000 3850 6400 22500 42500 130000 -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1173
Low Grade: G
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 67


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
8/7/1996 NGC XF 45   Teletrade Auction 0865, 865/Lot# 1414 $119.90
2/20/2005 PCGS AU 55   Goldberg February 20-23, 2005 Pre-Long Beach Coin Auction, 28/Lot# 169 $460.00
2/20/2006 NGC AU 58   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 75, 80/Lot# 659 $460.00
9/22/2010 PCGS MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2010 September Long Beach, CA Signature US Coin Auction #1144, 1144/Lot# 4120 $1,265.00
9/4/2011 PCGS MS 62   Goldberg September 4-6, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction, 65/Lot# 1240 $2,012.50
11/4/2012 PCGS Genuine Genuine   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 11/04/2012, 47/Lot# 82878 $138.60
2/5/2015 NGC MS 63   Stack's Bowers 2015 Americana Auction, 6070/Lot# 1666 $1,880.00
4/23/2017 NGC Details AU Details  Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131718/Lot# 21874 $376.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1838 50C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base2372653143665027259081028108813031683194920332335308040956820864412571130881407015109
246281331411576786948104811601430177219772134258334185003742899531274313415144160
00000094810481160143017721977213425833418500374289953127431341500
000000988106812311556186020052234283237575912803611262129161374300
1838 50C MS Prooflike
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base1111111111111111111111
1111111111111111111110
0000001111111111111100
0000001111111111111100
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 67
Points: 12571
Owner: Heartland Collection
 
Grade: MS 62
Points: 3096
Owner: Half-collector
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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USA Coin Album: The Coinage of 1837, Part Three

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