The first half dollars coined by the United States Mint were dated 1794, though the majority of these were coined early in the following year. Along with the more common 1795 halves, these two dates comprise the entire production of Flowing Hair half dollars.
The Draped Bust of Liberty devised for the silver dollar in 1795 was adapted to this denomination in 1796 and paired with the Small Eagle reverse. Used only for a few thousand coins dated 1796 and 1797, this design type was struck almost entirely in the latter year. No more half dollars were produced again until 1801. Coined in most years through 1807, these pieces featured the Draped Bust obverse paired with the Heraldic Eagle reverse (also called the Large Eagle reverse).
There are many 1794 - 1807 half dollar die varieties that collectors find desirable. Since many of the design elements required to complete a die were punched into it by hand, each die is readily distinguishable. The greatest number of widely-recognized die varieties in these early years are 1794 - 1795 half dollars and 1805 - 1807 half dollars.
NGC will assign Overton (O) numbers to all half dollars die varieties from 1794 through 1807. In Overton?s system, the first die variety listed is given the number 101, and each date begins anew with this number, followed by O-102, O-103, etc. Later die states within a single die pairing use suffix letters. For example, 1806 variety 104 is identified successively as O-104, O-104a or O-104b.
Below is a list of half dollar die varieties NGC recognizes by Overton number, beginning with 1794 half dollar varieties and ending with 1807 half dollar varieties. Access to the detailed pages of the half dollar die varieties you see below is part of NGC Collectors Society membership. Die variety detail pages contain population information as well as NGC database images for half dollar varieties, where available.
NGC also provides information on other half dollar varieties:
Early Half Dollar Varieties (1807-1821) | Early Half Dollar Varieties (1822-1828) | Early Half Dollar Varieties (1829-1836) | Reeded Edge Half Dollar Varieties (1836-1839) | Seated Liberty Half Dollar Varieties (1839-1891) | Barber Half Dollar Varieties (1892-1915) | Walking Liberty Half Dollar Varieties (1916-1947) | Franklin Half Dollar Varieties (1948-1963) | Kennedy Half Dollars (1964-Date)
* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading.
VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC. For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to
have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus
designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
Overton, Al C. Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836, 3rd Edition. Donald L. Parsley, Escondido, CA, 92025 (a 4th edition has been published, but the 3rd Edition is recommended)