Designer: John Reich. Engraver: William
Kneass. Weight: 1.35 grams. Composition: .8924 silver, .1076
copper. Approx diameter: 15.5mm. Reeded edge. Changed to
1.34 grams, .900 fine in 1837.
Half Dimes of 1829 show two different reverse device punches,
each consisting of eagle, arrows, olive branch, and inscribed
scroll, but no other lettering. The first punch, “Triple
Stripes,” show three lines in each pale gules. The second,
“Double Stripes,” shows only two. The former appears only
on three working dies of 1829; the latter on all the rest,
through 1837 when the design was changed.
Coins dated 1829-32 sometimes come with
cracked reverse originally used with obverse of later date,
indicating that old obverse dies were carried to the new
Second Mint building in 1833-35 and indiscriminately used
as long as they would remain fit for service to save time
of making new dies. The 1832 “No Berries” variety is part
of this group, it reverse die is almost worn out.
Designed by John Reich, the Capped Bust
half-dime shows Liberty in profile facing left wearing a
Phrygian cap with LIBERTY inscribed on the headband. Ringlets
of hair protrude from her cap at the forehead and ear, and
her curls fall to the shoulders. A clasp just off the shoulder
holds the drapery, and the date is below the truncation.
Seven stars are to her left and six are to the right.
The reverse shows the heraldic eagle looking
left with wings raised. Above the eagle, on a banner, is
the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The required inscription UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the coin, and the denomination
written as 5 C. is below.
John Reich put the denomination on the gold
and silver coins of the time. This innovation had not been
done previously because coins, especially in Europe, were
valued for their metallic content and weight. By 1815 Reich
had created a set of circulating coins with the common capped
liberty obverse. In 1813 Reich modified the half eagle to
become what is called the Capped Head design. Some contemporary
critic called the bust of Liberty “Reich’s fat German mistress.”