Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: New Orleans
Mintage: 1,290,000
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.4400g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $6.35 (10/20/2019)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1861 S 50C MS obverse 1861 S 50C MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

The San Francisco Mint coined nearly a million half dollars this year, its largest production to that time. Examples in the lower circulated grades are thus fairly common, while XF and AU pieces are only slightly scarce. At the Mint State level, however, this issue joins its forebears as a rare coin, with gems being exceedingly so. Harshly cleaned examples showing little or no wear remain from the so-called Guatemala Hoard that surfaced around 1956. These coins were evidently darkly toned, and the market of that time was dominated by a "bright is best" mindset. Had the hoard coins been preserved as found, modern conservation techniques may very well have created a number of additional gem specimens.

The typical 1861-S half dollar reveals considerable die erosion, as the higher than usual mintage seems to have been accomplished by running the dies far too long. The Philadelphia Mint shipped only six obverse dies for 1861-S half dollar production, while enough reverse dies of earlier years were on hand that no more were shipped until 1862. All of these display the old reverse hub of 1842, but both Large S and Medium S mintmarks are known. All six obverse dies have been identified by Wiley and Bugert, and these were paired seven times with the Large S reverses and three times with Medium S dies. The latter variety is slightly the more scarce but not enough to carry a premium price. These mintmark sizes represent the only collectible varieties for 1861-S.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 6/25/2019

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1861 S 50C MS
Base $ 68.00 88.00 100.00 135 300 700 745 950 1030 1250 1450 2200 3650 5625 23700 33500 - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - 27000 36000 - -

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Total Graded: 114
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 67

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, 67 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 10/8/2019 1861 S 50C MS
 1 %3 %4 %4 %12 %5 %10 %4 %5 %8 %17 %-1 %6 %7 %11 %2 %1 %1 %--- 

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
12/28/2009 NGC MS 63   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 440, 446/Lot# 429 $1,955.00
12/27/2010 PCGS Genuine Genuine   Teletrade Auction 2985, 2985/Lot# 1421 $74.75
9/4/2011 NGC Details AU Details  Goldberg September 4-6, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Auction, 65/Lot# 1261 $414.00
9/6/2012 PCGS VF 35   Heritage Auctions 2012 September 6-9 US Coins Signature Auction- Long Beach Session(4), 1174/Lot# 8488 $235.00
2/9/2014 PCGS Genuine AU   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131407/Lot# 22167 $293.75
8/8/2014 NGC XF 40   Stack's Bowers iAuction 3494, 6045/Lot# 21307 $188.00
9/7/2014 NGC F 12   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 09/07/2014, 191/Lot# 175964 $75.00
3/6/2018 PCGS Genuine Genuine   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131811/Lot# 24011 $114.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1861 50C MS S
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: XF 40
Points: 783
Owner: TerryZman
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