Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: New Orleans
Mintage: 5,240,000
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.4400g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $6.15 (9/26/2017)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1854 O ARROWS 50C MS obverse 1854 O ARROWS 50C MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

The two-year 1854 Arrows Seated half dollar issues followed the one-year Arrows and Rays Seated type, both styles indicating a reduction in the weight of the half dollar from 13.36 gm (used since the introduction of the Seated half dollar design in 1839) to 12.44 gm. Only the weight of the coin changed, the fineness, diameter, and design remained the same.

Though the amount of weight change might seem insignificant, the reduction was necessary for an important reason--to keep half dollars in circulation. The production of gold from California and other places in the late 1840s and throughout the 1850s flooded U.S. and world markets, enough to distort the ratio between gold and silver prices. Silver prices increased, which meant the bullion value of U.S. silver coins exceeded their face value. Brokers, speculators, and regular citizens hoarded the coins, many of which were eventually exported and melted. Silver coins virtually disappeared from circulation.

The Act of February 21, 1853, allowed Mint Director George N. Eckert to reduce the weight of the half dime, dime, quarter, and half dollar. On the 1853 half dollar, the change was indicated by the placement of arrowheads on both sides of the date, and by the addition of a sunburst of rays around the eagle on the reverse. The rays were problematic, compromising the ability of die makers to produce and maintain needed dies, and so were dropped from the 1854 issues. This example is well struck, though with minor softness in some of the details. Both sides are lustrous and covered by a warm russet patina with a trace of rose, and the obverse is peppered with dark toning highlights. 'Halos' are present around the obverse devices, a doubling phenomenon attributed to excessive striking force during production. The reverse shows die cracks, most obvious between the U of UNITED and the H of HALF.

The New Orleans Mint produced over 5 million Seated halves in 1854, and the type is relatively common in grades up to and including near-Gem.

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

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

1854 O ARROWS 50C MS
Base $ 43.00 48.00 70.00 90.00 165 310 365 410 550 750 900 1275 2100 3025 8500 22000 56000 75000 - -
$ - - - - 575 - - - - - - 29000 - -

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Total Graded: 791
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 68

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/17/2003 NGC AU 55   Heritage Auctions 2003 November Bullet Sale #335, 335/Lot# 1083 $218.50
2/11/2007 NGC MS 68   Goldberg February 11-14, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 39/Lot# 1443 $69,000.00
5/29/2011 NGC MS 63   Goldberg May 29 - June 1, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction of US, World Coins and Currency, 63/Lot# 823 $54,050.00
5/27/2012 PCGS MS 64   Bonhams Coins and Medals, 19995/Lot# 1055 $3,393.00
11/25/2012 NGC AU 55   Teletrade Auction 3387, 3387/Lot# 2070 $391.00
7/27/2013 PCGS MS 66   Stack's Bowers The August 2013 Chicago ANA World's Fair of Money , 192/Lot# 4148 $25,850.00
11/10/2013 PCGS AU 53   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 11/10/2013, 100/Lot# 151356 $249.57
5/18/2014 PCGS AU 55   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 804, 813/Lot# 10159 $500.00
8/10/2016 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2016 August 10 - 14 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Anaheim Session(3), 1238/Lot# 4743 $1,703.75

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1854 O ARROWS 50C MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 61
Points: 1583
Owner: JTO
Grade: AU 58
Points: 1219
Owner: Eric A. Hill
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