Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1855 ARROWS 50C MS

Description & Analysis

The Philadelphia Mint put the brakes on half dollar production this year. As subsidiary pieces, half dollar had only limited legal tender and were thus difficult to deposit or exchange when presented in large quantities. The U. S. Mint received many complaints of such redundancies, but it nevertheless seems that the relatively low coinage of 1855(P) halves was a statistical blip. Heavy production resumed the following year and continued right through 1858.

Of the five date/mint combinations having arrowheads at the date, only the 1855-S half dollar is more scarce than this one. Mint State examples are much less often seen than for 1854(P), 1854-O and 1855-O. Even circulated specimens are difficult to locate, particularly at the XF-AU level.

The Wiley-Bugert reference lists eight die marriages from seven obverses and six reverses. This number may have risen since that book's publication in 1993, but there appears to be little interest in studying Philadelphia Mint coins from this series. The only notable variety is the 1855/854 overdate. In fact, there are three such dies, each paired with a distinctive reverse, so the overdate feature may have been on the master die for this date and is simply not visible on the other obverse dies. Two collars have been observed, these having 145 or 146 reeds, respectively.

Chief Engraver James B. Longacre favored slanting numerals 5, but the extreme slant unique to 1855 was not thereafter repeated. It may be that it drew received some unfavorable comment from higher-ups.