Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1871 S 50C MS

Description & Analysis

With its generous mintage, the 1871-S half dollar is common across all circulated grades. Mint State examples are available, but in very limited numbers. Most coins of this issue were quite well made, with few of the problems associated with earlier S-Mint halves.

The San Francisco Mint requested eight obverse dies for 1871 half dollars, but no reverses. All eight of the first have been identified by Wiley and Bugert, along with six reverse dies. These were paired in various combinations to create the nine die marriages known for this date/mint. Two of the reverses display the Very Small S commonly seen on San Francisco half dollar since the motto was added in 1866. Two more utilized a Small Wide S quite similar but not the same as that seen on 1863-64 half dollars. Finally, there were two uses of a mintmark punch unique to 1871 within this coin series. It is similar to the Very Small S of earlier years, but a bit thicker and with heavier serifs. These varieties are popular among series specialists.

An amazing four different collar gauges are found for this issue---139, 140, 143 or 144 reeds. These varieties are not as highly sought as the mintmark styles, yet they are detailed in the Bugert Die Registry in connection with the die marriages for which they were used.