Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 2,178,000
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.4400g
ASW: 0.3599oz
Melt Value: $5.86 (7/21/2019)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1871 S 50C MS obverse 1871 S 50C MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

With its generous mintage, the 1871-S half dollar is common across all circulated grades. Mint State examples are available, but in very limited numbers. Most coins of this issue were quite well made, with few of the problems associated with earlier S-Mint halves.

The San Francisco Mint requested eight obverse dies for 1871 half dollars, but no reverses. All eight of the first have been identified by Wiley and Bugert, along with six reverse dies. These were paired in various combinations to create the nine die marriages known for this date/mint. Two of the reverses display the Very Small S commonly seen on San Francisco half dollar since the motto was added in 1866. Two more utilized a Small Wide S quite similar but not the same as that seen on 1863-64 half dollars. Finally, there were two uses of a mintmark punch unique to 1871 within this coin series. It is similar to the Very Small S of earlier years, but a bit thicker and with heavier serifs. These varieties are popular among series specialists.

An amazing four different collar gauges are found for this issue---139, 140, 143 or 144 reeds. These varieties are not as highly sought as the mintmark styles, yet they are detailed in the Bugert Die Registry in connection with the die marriages for which they were used.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 6/26/2019

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1871 S 50C MS
Base $ 45.00 60.00 75.00 100.00 195 310 340 475 625 950 1150 1550 2450 3500 8125 16500 - - - -

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Total Graded: 149
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 65

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.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 7/16/2019 1871 S 50C MS
 1 %4 %1 %3 %12 %7 %11 %7 %11 %15 %9 %-3 %7 %4 %4 %1 %----- 

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/17/2003 PCGS AU 50   Heritage Auctions 2003 November Bullet Sale #335, 335/Lot# 1095 $178.25
2/20/2005 PCGS MS 62   Goldberg February 20-23, 2005 Pre-Long Beach Coin Auction, 28/Lot# 1266 $977.50
10/2/2008 NGC AU 55   David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 288, 294/Lot# 8130 $272.55
3/4/2012 PCGS XF 45   Teletrade Auction 3235, 3235/Lot# 1671 $184.00
2/24/2013 NGC Details XF Details  GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 02/24/2013, 63/Lot# 96237 $99.00
11/15/2013 NGC AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2013 November 15 - 16 Selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part II Signature Auction - New York Session(4), 1190/Lot# 34593 $528.75
8/1/2014 NGC XF 45   Stack's Bowers iAuction 3493, 6044/Lot# 20159 $176.25
4/10/2016 PCGS VF 35   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131616/Lot# 25068 $111.63
5/15/2016 PCGS AU 50   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131621/Lot# 27233 $282.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1871 50C MS S
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 62
Points: 1949
Owner: Whidbey Island Collection
Grade: AU 55
Points: 966
Owner: ddr70
View the Registry Image Gallery

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