Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1840 (O) MED LETTERS 50C MS

Description & Analysis

This die mule featuring a normal 1840 obverse paired with a reverse of the Capped Bust type of 1838-39 remained a mystery for many years. While it was speculated that the Philadelphia Mint simply used a leftover reverse die either by accident or necessity, further study revealed this to be an issue of the New Orleans Mint. One clue was the slightly smaller than normal diameter, a figure associated with early O-Mint halves (see Lange, The Gobrecht Journal, July 1983 and November 1985). The second and definitive clue was the linking of the obverse die with other marriages of the 1840-O half dollar (see Bugert, TGJ March 1987). The lack of a mintmark was easily explained by the fact that Capped Bust coins carried obverse mintmarks.

Though not rare in overall numbers, this oddity is extremely popular with collectors and has long brought a strong premium. Mint State examples are extremely rare.