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December 27, 2013



Click on Coin Image to enlarge

1880 Seated Half Dollar 50C NGC MS67 - $9,875.00

Presenting this Superb Gem 1880 Seated Half Dollar is tied for the finest known at both NGC and PCGS. Please contact me by email or telephone 1-800-624-1870 to reserve this great coin.

1880 Half Dollar - 1880 Seated 50C NGC MS67. This Superb Gem 1880 Seated Half Dollar is tied for the finest known at both NGC and PCGS. The toned piece has pretty lavender, gold, and blue highlights with shimmering mint luster. These colors and toning establish its originality. The surfaces are extremely clean with no visible abrasion marks or other distractions. The strike is bold with full details on Liberty’s head, the centers of the stars, and the eagle’s feathers. The dentils are sharp and full on both sides.

Christian Gobrecht designed the Seated Liberty half dollar. The obverse 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 date is below. The reverse shows the heraldic eagle looking left. It is surrounded by the required inscription and the denomination written as HALF DOL. below. Dentils are around the periphery of both sides of the coin.
There were five varieties of the Seated Liberty half dollar. Type 1, 1839-1853 and 1856-1866 (resumed with weight standard of Type 2) has no motto above the eagle. It weighed 12.44 grams. Type 2, 1853, added rays around the eagle to indicate the change in weight to 12.44 grams. Type 3, 1854-1855, had the rays removed but arrows added to each side of the date. The weight remained the same. Type 4, 1866-1873 and 1875-1891 (resumed with weight standard of Type 5) had the motto IN GOD WE TRUST added to a banner above the eagle. The arrows at the date were removed. Type 5, 1873-1874, had the arrows at the date added back to show the change in weight to 12.50 grams.

The 1880 half dollar is a Variety 4 (1875-1891) resumed with the weight standard of the Variety 5. The coin weighs 12.50 grams compared to prior issues of 12.44 and the earliest of 13.36.

In 1866 the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to a banner above the eagle. The change was brought about because of pressure by the Reverend Mark Richards Watkinson of Ridleyville, PA. Both before and during the Civil War almost a dozen Protestant denominations pressured Congress to add references to God to the Constitution and other government documents. Watkinson was the first to write to Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase to request that God’s name be added to our coinage. His suggestion for a motto was “God, Liberty, Law.” Chase ordered Mint Director James Pollock to prepare a suitable motto. Pollock’s suggestions included “Our Trust Is In God,” “Our God And Our Country,” and “God Our Trust.” Then Chase decided on “In God We Trust” to be added to most of the nation’s coinage. This motto was a subtle reminder that the North considered itself on the side of God with regard to the issue of slavery. A new law was required to allow the motto to be added since previous acts of Congress specified the mottos and devices that were permitted on coins. The new motto was placed on all coins that were deemed large enough to accommodate it.

Gobrecht was the third Chief Engraver at the United States Mint. He was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1785. His father was a German immigrant, and his mother traced her ancestry to the early settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Gobrecht married Mary Hewes in 1818. One of his early positions was as an engraver of clocks in Baltimore. Later he went to Philadelphia where he became a banknote engraver. He invented a machine that allowed one to convert a three-dimensional medal into an illustration. This was an excellent job and Gobrecht was understandably reluctant to work for the Mint for less money than he was making at the engraving firm. In order to persuade him to leave, Mint Director Robert Patterson prevailed upon Chief Engraver William Kneass, who had had a stroke, to take less in salary so more money would be available to hire Gobrecht on a permanent basis. In 1826 Gobrecht did his first work for the Mint as an assistant to Kneass. After Kneass’ 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 silver coinage including the half-dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar and silver 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.

In its population report, NGC shows 7 1880 quarters certified at the MS67 grade level with none finer. At PCGS there is 1 with none finer. These numbers do not account for crossovers or resubmissions.


Very Truly Yours,

Tom Pilitowski
Toll Free:
Email: TomPilitowski@yahoo.com


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