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Liberty Seated Half Dimes (1837-1873)

Designer: Christian Gobrecht. Weight: 1.34 grams. Composition: .900 silver, .100 copper. Approx diameter: 15.5mm. Reeded edge. Mints: Philadelphia, New Orleans.

Designed by Christian Gobrecht, the half dime depicts Liberty seated looking over her shoulder to the left. She balances the Union Shield inscribed LIBERTY with her right hand and holds a staff on which is placed a Phrygian cap in her left. There are seven stars to the left and six to the right interrupted by her head and the capped pole. The dated is below. The reverse shows the denomination written in two words surrounded by an open laurel wreath. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is at the edge. Dentils are around the periphery of both sides of the coin.

The half dime was a silver coin minted in the United States that was valued at five cents. It was the first coin minted by the United States Mint under the Coinage Act of 1792 when the half “disme” was produced. They were produced until 1873, when they were displaced by the copper-nickel five cent coin that was first issued in 1865. The Liberty Seated half dime was the last type made. Other types included the 1792 Half Disme, the 1794-1795 Flowing Hair half dime, the 1796-1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle, the 1800-05 Heraldic Eagle, and the Capped Bust of 1829-1837. In addition, the Seated Liberty, 1837-1873 had several subtypes.

In 1826 Gobrecht did his first work for the Mint as an assistant to William Kneass. After Kneass’ debilitating stroke, Gobrecht did all the die and pattern work for the Mint. He became Chief Engraver in 1840 and served until his death in 1844. He was famous for his Liberty Seated motif which was used for all denominations of sliver coinage including the half dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar and sliver dollar. He also designed the Liberty Head gold eagle, a motif that was also used on the half-cent, the cent, the gold quarter eagle, and the gold half eagle.




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