Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1858 50C PF

Description & Analysis

In 1858 the U. S. Mint began publicizing the availability of proof coins for purchase, though, remarkably, it still did not charge a premium over face value. This would not come until 1860. What we have come to call "proof" coins did not acquire that name until about this time, the phrase perhaps originating with Mint Director James R. Snowden, who advocated their sale. Prior to that time Mint correspondence always describes these pieces as "master" coins.

The number of proof half dollars coined went unrecorded, but a reconstructed estimate of 300 pieces is in line with the number of survivors, allowing for certain attrition over the years. The year 1858 was thus the traditional starting point for collectors seeking to assemble date sets of proofs, and early coin albums for proof coins began with this date.

Walter Breen identified two obverse dies used for this issue.