Description and Analysis
Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1866 S NO MOTTO 50C MS
Description & Analysis
For 1866's coinage, the U. S. Mint's intended to add the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to all coins large enough to permit it. This was achieved that year, but not before the San Francisco Mint proceeded to strike small runs of eagles, double eagles and half dollars. The new reverse dies for S-Mint coins did not arrive in time to prevent the onset of production with dies leftover from previous years. The 1866-S half dollar without the motto is a very scarce coin in lower grades and is genuinely rare grading XF and higher. Mint State survivors are extremely rare.
Just a single pair of dies was used to strike the 60,000 half dollars without motto, and this coinage was likely effected in a single day. The mintmark used was the Small, Thin S introduced with 1865's production, and it's likely that the reverse die was part of that same shipment. Most examples display obvious die-clashing impressions.
The Bugert Die Registry for San Francisco Mint half dollars lists three different reed counts for 1866-S half dollars of both issues, but it's not stated which of these is seen on the No Motto edition.