Description and Analysis
Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1858 O 50C MS
Description & Analysis
The 1858-O half dollar enjoyed the highest mintage of this series until it was finally exceeded in 1876. As one would expect, worn examples are very common. Mint State survivors are somewhat scarce, but they are common in comparison to other New Orleans half dollars, save for the extremely common 1861-O. Most pieces were well made and present excellent opportunities for the type collector seeking a single coin in high grade.
Not surprisingly, the 1858-O half dollar offers a bumper crop of die marriages, some 41 in all. These are comprised of 24 obverses and a like number of reverses, though it's probable that still more will be identified. All reverse dies seen so far have been of the Type 1 hub used 1842-57. Amazingly, just a single collar gauge is known, this having 140 reeds. It's possible that the New Orleans Mint made a conscious decision to avoid the variety of earlier issues.
Since all dies were prepared at the Philadelphia Mint's engraving department, this high mintage issue resulted in numerous varieties similar to those known for 1858(P). Readers are referred to NGC's VarietyPlus website for more details.
This issue was heavily represented among the thousands of half dollars recovered from the wreck of the steamer Republic, which sank in a storm during 1865. Such coins display varying degrees of saltwater damage.