Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 3,532,708
Catalog: KM-79
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.44g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $6.69 (8/26/2016)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1853 ARROWS & RAYS 50C MS obverse 1853 ARROWS & RAYS 50C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The vast quantities of gold that flooded the eastern United States in the late 1840s had a deleterious effect on the country's silver coins. As the price of the staple coinage metal rose sharply when reckoned in terms of gold dollars, it was not long before speculators started their usual hoarding and/or melting practices. By 1850, there were few coins in circulation between the lowly cent and the gold dollar. In an effort to rectify this grave coinage situation, Mint Director George N. Eckert proposed that Congress lower the weights of the silver coins to ensure that their face value remained above their bullion value. Despite reservations, Congress authorized this plan in the Mint Act of February 21, 1853. The half dollar's new weight was 12.44 grams, a sufficient enough reduction from its former weight of 13.36 grams to ensure that the denomination remained in circulation. To distinguish these new half dollars from their predecessors, Eckert ordered that arrows be placed on either side of the date and rays added around the eagle. With these features, the Philadelphia Mint delivered the first 80,000 examples of its lighter half dollar on May 21. By the end of the year, a respectable total of 3,532,708 specimens were produced by the parent mint alone.

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


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 8/3/2016

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Base $ 45.00 50.00 78.00 125 300 635 735 825 1150 1550 1700 2450 3900 5200 26500 62000 100000 - - -
$ - - - 950 1250 - 1800 2800 4300 6350 29500 80000 - -

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Total Graded: 1139
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 66

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
9/18/1996 PCGS AU 55   Teletrade Auction 0877, 877/Lot# 1523 $327.00
1/6/2010 PCGS AU 53   Heritage Auctions 2010 January Orlando, FL FUN US Coin Auction #1136, 1136/Lot# 8156 $690.00
1/31/2010 PCGS AU 50   Goldberg January 31 - February 3, 2010 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 57/Lot# 1080 $517.50
10/13/2011 PCGS MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2011 October 13-16 US Coins Signature Auction #1160- Pittsburgh Session(1), 1160/Lot# 3722 $2,990.00
2/28/2012 PCGS AU 58   Stack's Bowers The March 2012 Baltimore Auction, 135/Lot# 3298 $977.50
11/29/2012 PCGS VF 35   Heritage Auctions 2012 November 29 - December 2 US Coin Signature Auction - Houston Session(4), 1177/Lot# 9222 $352.50
2/17/2013 NGC XF 40   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 02/17/2013, 62/Lot# 51117 $201.30
5/12/2013 PCGS VF 25   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 751, 760/Lot# 652 $160.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1853 ARROWS & RAYS 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 64
Points: 4217
Owner: BillJones
Grade: MS 63
Points: 3386
Owner: Senator32
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