Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: New Orleans
Mintage: 2,532,633
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.4400g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $8.19 (11/29/2020)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1861 O 50C MS obverse 1861 O 50C MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

A generous mintage, wartime hoarding and the discovery of an immense undersea treasure have made the 1861-O half dollar a common coin across all grades. Only at the gem Mint State level is this coin rare.

The year 1861 was a momentous one, and the New Orleans Mint found itself right at the center of the drama. Seized by the State of Louisiana shortly after it seceded from the Union, the mint was later turned over to the Confederate government based in Montgomery, Alabama (later relocated to Richmond, Virginia). Throughout this period the mint continued to strike silver half dollars and gold double eagles from existing supplies of bullion until the mint finally ceased coining operations May 14, 1861.

Numismatic research in later years determined that the number of half dollars coined under authority of the United States of America, all struck during January, was 330,000. Another 1,240,000 pieces were produced by the State of Louisiana during February and March, and some 962,633 half dollars were struck under the CSA during April. It is thus possible to collect 1861-O half dollars from all three authorities, though identification of the specific die pairs for each is challenging work requiring unworn and undamaged specimens.

A total of 15 die marriages are known for this issue, these being the products of six each obverse and reverse dies. Two marriages have been dated to the USA period, six more to the State of Louisiana and another seven to CSA authority. All 1861-O half dollars were coined with one or more collars having 140 reeds, and all display the Type 2 reverse adopted in 1858.

Aside from the many die marriages, collectible varieties for this issue are minor and limited. Of most interest is the die pairing on which a distinct crack is visible from the bridge of Liberty's nose to the border. Of the several marriages assigned to the CSA period, this is the only one that is immediately recognizable, as the same obverse die was used to coin the four half dollars bearing a distinctive reverse of unique design engraved for the CSA.

Recovery of the treasure that had been aboard the steamship Republic, which sank of the coast of Georgia in 1865, revealed many thousands of 1861-O half dollars and lesser number of earlier issues. Though most show the effects of saltwater immersion to varying degrees, the hoard has further added to the already generous supply of this date.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 6/21/2019

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

1861 O 50C MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 42.00 65.00 90.00 155 270 415 450 575 725 800 1050 1400 1950 3650 6400 18750 - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - 3800 - - - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 426
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 66

The chart showing PrAg series, G series, VG series, F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 11/24/2020 1861 O 50C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base1082194727422726363712527402793----422
---------1------1-----2
---------------1------1
-----------------------
Total10821947274227263737125274028103----425
 2%2%5%2%11%6%10%6%6%9%9%0%6%6%9%7%2%1%---- 
1861 O 50C MS PL
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base------------1--3------4
-----------------------
-----------------------
-----------------------
Total------------1--3------4
 ------------25%--75%------ 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1861 O 50C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base11352012553956427548749581081121312841505192821242860421760898851139432217326905
4615721930247767979490299911251237135816461993236933124841701010548166862375028250
000000794902999112512371358164619932369331248417010105481668600
0000008349301040116912601431178720592615376554657930122461943000
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 55
Points: 1081
Owner: DRB59
 
Grade: AU 53
Points: 958
Owner: tooch
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.