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: $6.60 (10/22/2017)
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.

GRADE SUMMARY

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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
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
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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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 286
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 67


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/4/2017 XF 40   Heritage Auctions 2017 November 2 - 4 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(3), 1261/Lot# 17129


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
9/17/2002 NGC F 12   Heritage Auctions Exclusively Internet Auction #22094, 22094/Lot# 17520 $184.00
2/20/2006 NGC AU 58   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 75, 80/Lot# 661 $1,667.50
8/11/2011 NGC MS 61   Heritage Auctions 2011 August Chicago Signature US Coin & Platinum Night Auction Session(2), 1158/Lot# 3965 $4,318.25
8/14/2011 PCGS AU 53   Teletrade Auction 3118, 3118/Lot# 1724 $2,357.50
9/2/2012 NGC Details AU Details  Goldberg September 2-5, 2012 The September 2-5, 2012, 70/Lot# 926 $748.00
10/17/2012 NGC AU 58   Stack's Bowers The November 2012 Baltimore Auction - US and World Lots - Live and Internet Only Sessions, 144/Lot# 1716 $3,818.75
3/10/2013 PCGS Genuine Genuine   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/10/2013, 65/Lot# 104187 $370.70


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1839 50C MS O Prooflike
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base663727874103413841931204822562704293032373560381140414967662687841131515069161611731018519
68477692711501566197021172405277930323344364338874349552073459627125661543316544177130
0000002117240527793032334436433887434955207345962712566154331654400
00000021862554285431343452372739644658607380641047113817157971692700
1839 50C MS O
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base55368082097413091834196921472579279730943406365038724771638284831095214619156871681217995
59572687110851484187920282291265128963198348737244171530870829306121741497516062172060
0000002028229126512896319834873724417153087082930612174149751606200
00000020872435272429953302356837984471584577821012913396153311643700
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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