Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 12,000
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $8.94 (10/24/2020)
Diameter: 30.6mm
Edge: Reeded
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1878 S 50C MS obverse 1878 S 50C MS reverse
Images Courtesy of Heritage Auctions (HA.com)
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Description & Analysis

The extremely low mintage of this final San Francisco Mint Seated Liberty Half Dollar resulted in a genuinely rare coin across all grades. Indeed, it is the key to completing a basic date/mint set of this coin type, and a mere 60 survivors are estimated to exist. A disproportionately high number (16 or so, according to series expert Bill Bugert) have survived unworn, though only a very few of these are gems (MS-65 or higher). The typical MS 1878-S half dollar was fully struck from fresh dies that imparted some degree of prooflike brilliance.

The low mintage of this issue resulted from the great redundancy of fractional silver coins in circulation and in government vaults by early 1878. No more pieces were needed, and further production through 1891 was limited to the Philadelphia Mint. This came as a conveniently timed relief, since passage of the Bland-Allison Act early in 1878 mandated the production of many millions of unwanted silver dollars annually. Many numismatic writers have concluded that the latter development is what led to the near suspension of half dollar coinage after 1878, but it was simply a coincidence.

Only a single pair of dies is known for 1878-S, and all examples have 147 reeds, a gauge not used for 1878(P) or CC halves. This has made it possible to easily spot a common Philly half dollar to which an S mintmark has been added. In addition, there are several distinctive die markers for this rare coin, and these are well illustrated in Bill Bugert's excellent reference, A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Varieties, Volume I, San Francisco Branch Mint.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 6/27/2019

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

1878 S 50C MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 50000 47500 65000 66000 85000 95000 100000 105000 110000 - 130000 145000 177500 230000 300000 - - - - -

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: 13
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
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: 10/20/2020 1878 S 50C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base113-11-------1122-----13
-----------------------
-----------------------
-----------------------
Total113-11-------1122-----13
 8%8%23%-8%8%-------8%8%15%15%----- 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1878 S 50C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base381785158968998110430116437287118631207512178123781275712937134461461915603171181707020621253493172937859
538386669306101311083411643881211934121091224512504128171310713837149471610817118182542219727476337720
00000088121193412109122451250412817131071383714947161081711818254221972747600
000000103381200412144123111263112877132761422815275166131711819437237732960200
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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.