Coin Specifications

Category: Early Halves (1794-1839)
Mint: New Orleans
Mintage: 178,976
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 13.3600g
ASW: 0.3866oz
Melt Value: $6.71 (11/18/2017)
Diameter: 30mm
Edge: Reeded
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1839 O 50C MS obverse 1839 O 50C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The New Orleans Mint received dies dated 1838 for half dollars, but only a few pieces were coined with them late that year or early the next. These coins were not intended for circulation, and the first general emission was dated 1839. This was itself a fairly small mintage for the period, reference books being in disagreement as to the actual total. Krause Publications and the Dick Graham book use the traditional figure of 178,976 pieces, while the Whitman Red Book gives a total of just 116,000 1839-O half dollars. Both numbers imply a fairly scarce issue, which actual experience confirms. While not rare, this date/mint us almost always found well worn. Mint State survivors are very scarce, and gems are genuinely rare.

As with the O-Mint gold coins of 1838-39, the half dollar's mintmark was placed on its obverse above the date. Since the Philadelphia Mint's engraving department had no previous experience with mintmarks before 1838, there was nothing odd about this placement. Nevertheless, all mintmarks were moved to the reverse dies starting in 1840, perhaps to provide greater flexibility in the shipping of obverse dies to the mints needing them. Being undated, reverse dies could be carried over from one year to the next until no longer serviceable.

Numismatists have identified three each of obverse and reverse dies for this issue, and these were used in combination to produce five die marriages. The vast majority of 1839-O half dollars were coined with variety GR-1. Of the remaining marriages, GR-2 and GR-3 are extremely rare, while GR-4 and GR-5 are moderately scarce. The general popularity of 1839-O half dollars, with their distinctive obverse mintmarks, has made all examples expensive enough that little interest is shown in the various die varieties.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 1/18/2016

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

1839 O 50C MS
Base $ 250 415 850 1150 1800 2350 2450 2800 5200 5600 6000 7250 10500 18000 51000 135000 230000 - - -
$ 1950 - 2650 3150 5500 - 6750 8000 11500 21000 65000 - - -

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Total Graded: 287
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 67

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
2/20/2005 PCGS AU 55   Goldberg February 20-23, 2005 Pre-Long Beach Coin Auction, 28/Lot# 1222 $2,185.00
2/20/2006 NGC AU 58   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 75, 80/Lot# 661 $1,667.50
7/10/2011 NGC Details XF Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/10/2011, 125/Lot# 11489 $495.00
10/23/2011 NGC Details VF Details  Teletrade Auction 3159, 3159/Lot# 1996 $391.00
3/8/2012 PCGS Genuine Genuine   Heritage Auctions 2012 March 8-9 US Coin Signature Auction - New York Session(1), 1168/Lot# 3415 $977.50
9/25/2013 PCGS VG 10   Heritage Auctions 2013 September 25 - 29 US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(7), 1189/Lot# 8202 $881.25
2/5/2015 PCGS F 15   Stack's Bowers 2015 Americana Auction, 6070/Lot# 1667 $998.75
10/28/2015 NGC MS 65   Heritage Auctions 2015 October 28 Gardner Collection IV US Coins Signature Auction - New York Session(1), 1229/Lot# 98636 $30,550.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1839 50C MS O Prooflike
1839 50C MS O
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 6382
Owner: Half-collector
Grade: AU 58
Points: 3094
Owner: goldsaint
View the Registry Image Gallery

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