Description and Analysis

Early US Type Performance
1836 LETTERED 50C MS

Description & Analysis

1836 was the final year in which the U. S. Mint struck coins in an open collar and having an edge device applied prior to striking. The transition to close collars that already included the requisite edge device had already been made for the other denominations a few years previous, but the urgency of coining half dollars delayed any such change until the Philadelphia Mint received its first steam-powered coin press in 1836. Most of 1836's half dollar mintage still consisted of Lettered Edge coins struck by manpower, and this date saw the largest production of half dollars for the entire Capped Bust series.

The 1836 Lettered Edge half dollar is fairly plentiful in Mint State, though not as common as one might expect of its mintage. As with 1835, certified gems are scarce, and probably for the same reason; the shallow borders typical of these dates and some of the 1834 halves did not protect the main devices from light abrasion, and there are huge numbers of such "sliders" for all three years.

Popular varieties include O-108, on which a numeral 3 was punched where the 8 should be and there overpunched with the correct numeral. Another engraving mistake was punching the denomination as "00 Cl" This was then corrected to read "50 C." (O-116). Finally, one reverse die has a different treatment of the border device, which appears more like beads than the usual denticles. This "Beaded Reverse" (O-106) sounds more interesting than it is, and the distinction is a very subtle one. All three varieties are common enough to be collectable, and the only rare die marriage for 1836 is O-121. The latter is of interest solely to series specialists.