Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1870 50C MS

Description & Analysis

Five years after the end of America's Civil War, the federal paper currency was still not trading at par with gold and silver coins, meaning that hard money remained nearly invisible within most of the nation. Only in the Far West did half dollar circulate freely, as paper money was shunned or even prohibited. Thus it was that the Philadelphia Mint coined only 633,900 1870 half dollars, and many of these were quickly exported for their bullion value or condemned to circulate in Canada or Latin America. It was in this year that the government of Canada began a program to expel the American issues and replace with its own new coinage.

The 1870(P) half dollar is slightly scarce in all grades, becoming much more so in grades XF and higher. Mint State survivors may number around a couple dozen, though a few are quite choice. The Wiley-Bugert book observes that some examples are weak at letters BER of LIBERTY.

Nine die marriages have been confirmed, these the product of seven each obverse and reverse dies used in multiple combinations. As was often the case for this coin series, the Philadelphia Mint utilized a wide variety of collar gauges. Four are known, these having 145, 146, 152 or 153 reeds, respectively.

A very minor repunched date variety is of little general interest but may be sought by series specialists.