Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1857 S 50C MS

Description & Analysis

Half dollar production receded a bit at the San Francisco Mint from the level of 1856. The 1857-S half dollar is a scarce issue across all grades, with Mint State survivors being rare. When found in higher grades, the typical example is well struck.

Remarkably, a dozen die pairs were shipped west for this year's mintage, but only a few of these were actually used in 1857. Just four die marriages are known from the pairing of four obverses with three reverses. Two marriages feature the Large S mintmark found on all 1855 and 1856 halves, while the other two reveal a new, Medium S mintmark from the new shipment. The latter style is the one most often seen, and specialists will pay a premium for 1857-S Large S coins.

Aside from the mintmark distinction, there are no collectible varieties for the issue. At least two collars were employed, these having 138 or 140 reeds, respectively. Since these numbers are both lower than for 1857(P) halves, they provide a useful authentication tool in distinguishing altered Philadelphia coins.