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Barber Half (Halves) Dollar

Barber Half Dollars For Sale


History of the Barber Half


The Barber Half Dollar, once know as the “Liberty Head Half”, was minted from 1892 to 1915.  In 1887, Mint Director James P. Kimball noted in his annual report the “inferiority of our coinage” compared to other advanced nations and that in his opinion, the coinage ofBarber Half the U.S. was out of date and should be changed.  At the request of Kimball, Senator Justin S. Morill introduced a bill authorizing the Treasury Department to redesign coins without first obtaining the permission of Congress, as long as the current design had been in use for at least 25 years.  The bill passed on September 26, 1890 and the dime, quarter and half dollar were targeted for change.  The decision of who should redesign the coins eventually fell to his successor, Edward O. Leech. 


Ironically, new designs were submitted by Mint engravers throughout the early 1880’s but the only change that occurred was a new nickel designed by Charles E. Barber in 1883.  In 1891, when there wasBarber Half discussion of a public competition for new designs.  Barber reported to Mint director Kimball that there was no one in the country capable in assisting him in preparing original designs.  Augustus Saint-Gaudens confided to Kimball there were only four men in the world competent do to such a redesign:  three were in France and he was the fourth.  It did not matter.  Kimball insisted that rather than going abroad to find the best design talent available, it would be possible to find able designers in America.  Against the advice of Barber, the Treasury Department organized a competition to produce new designs.  A panel of 10 of the leading artist and sculptors of the day were commissioned to judge which would be the best designs for new coinage.  The panel met and instead of discussing the competition, they instead rejected the terms of the competition as proposed by Mint officials on the ground that the preparation time was too short and the compensation woeful.  The Mint director rejected the panels’ suggestions and threw the competition out to the public.  The results were disastrous.  Of the more than 300 drawings submitted, only two received an honorable mention by a smaller judging panel.  It is interesting to note that two of the judges were Barber and Saint-Gaudens. 


When Leech took over as Mint director, he was well aware of the problems his predecessor had experienced.  In order to get new designs into production and avoid another disaster of a competition, he simply directed Barber to draw up new designs.  This is what Barber had wanted all along has he felt as Chief Engraver, he, and he alone was responsible for coin design.


The result was not much in the way of originality.  That would have to wait for more than another 25 years.  What Barber did was to modify the large head used on the Morgan dollar by adding a Liberty cap and cropping Liberty’s hair shorter in back.  She is also facing the opposite direction of the dollar.  He then placed his initial B on the truncation of the neck.  This was the design used not only on the half dollar, but the new dime and quarter as well.


The reverse of the coin depicts the Great Seal of the United States and shows an eagle with outstretched wings, holding an olive branch with thirteen leaves in its right claw and a shear of 13 arrows in its left.  There is a ribbon with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM being held in the eagle’s beak and 13 stars are in the field. 


The half dollar was introduced in 1892 just as the new dime and quarter were.  In 1916, no half dollars were produced and the Barber coinage would give way to a whole new era of coin designs.  During the total run of 24 years, just fewer than 136 million Barber halves were produced with no mint producing more than 6 million in any given year.  It is interesting to note, that in the first year of the Kennedy half, over 400 million were produced, more than double in one year than the entire series of the Barber half.





The Barber half-dollar series consists of 73 regular issues, plus one major variety, the 1892 micro O. Barber halves enjoy a solid collector audience, but mostly in lower grades (AG-VF).  Except for a handful, most years and mints can be collected for under $20 in G condition and are readily available.  Most Barber Halves are in lower grades due to being heavilyBarber Half 1914 worn circulated.  Back in the day of Barber coinage, the Barber coins were the main coins in use for the general population.  A dime, quarter or half dollar could buy quite a bit of supplies and people just could not afford to save them.  With a low relief, the coin wore well.  Even many of the more rare dates are heavily worn.  In higher grades, the cost to assemble an entire collection is simply to cost prohibitive for most collectors.  Most BU coins in MS-63 or better run well over $1,000 per coin.


Key/Semi Key Dates


There are no real keys in the Barber series.  There are numerous semi-keys though.  There are 21 dates/mints that had production totals fewer than one million and 3 dates had mintages under 200,000, the 1913 P, 1914 P and 1915 P.  Even though those totals are extremely low, compared to the 1909 S VDB that had a mintage of 484,000 and will cost you over $700 in G4, the 3 “keys” in the Barber series can be had for around $100 or less.  Also a little more expensive to obtain will be the 1892-O, 1892-S, 1893-S, 1897-O and 1897-S.  Each one of these will set you back at least $200 or more, but with a little looking around, they are readily available.  




There are real significant errors within the Barber series.  There is one well known variety, the 1892 micro-O.  The regular 1892-O only had a mintage of 390,000, making the variety very scarce.  The small mint mark apparently came from a quarter punch. Apparently this was noticed rather quickly and fixed as there are only a handful of micro-O’s known to exist.




The Barber series has a proof coin for each regular year of production, although only a few thousand or less were produced for each year.  In MS-65 condition, each coin will cost $3000 or more to obtain.  For more information on collecting Barber Halves visit


Vital Statistics Summary


Key Coin Info


Designed by: Charles E. Barber
Issue dates: 1892-1915
Composition: 0.900 part silver, 0.100 part copper
Diameter: 30.6 mm.
Weight: 192.9 grains
Edge: Reeded
Business strike mintage: 135,916,889
Proof mintage: 17,313




Date     Mint             Mintage


1892 P       935,245

1892 O      390,000

1982 S    1,029,028

1893 P    1,826,792

1893 O    1,389,000

1893 S      740,000

1894 P    1,148,972

1894 O    2,138,000

1894 S    4,048,690

1895 P    1,835,218

1895 O    1,766,000

1895 S    1,108,086

1896 P      950,762

1896 O      924,000

1896 S    1,140,948

1897 P    2,480,731

1897 O      632,000

1897 S      933,900

1898 P    2,956,735

1898 O      874,000

1898 S    2,358,550

1899 P    5,538,846

1899 O    1,724,000

1899 S    1,686,411

1900 P    4,762,912

1900 O    2,744,000

1900 S    2,560,322

1901 P    4,268,813

1901 O    1,124,000

1901 S      847,044

1902 P    4,922,777

1902 O    2,526,000

1902 S    1,460,670

1903 P    2,278,755

1903 O    2,100,000

1903 S    1,920,772

1904 P    2,992,670

1904 O    1,117,600

1904 S      553,038

1905 P      662,727

1905 O      505,000

1905 S    2,494,000

1906      2,638,675

1906 D    4,028,000

1906 O    2,446,000

1906 S    1,740,154

1907      2,598,575

1907 D    3,856,000

1907 O    3,946,000

1907 S    1,250,000

1908      1,354,545

1908 D    3,280,000

1908 O    5,360,000

1908 S    1,644,828

1909      2,368,650

1909 O      925,400

1909 S    1,764,000

1910        418,551

1910 S    1,948,000

1911      1,406,543

1911 D      695,080

1911 S    1,272,000

1912      1,550,700

1912 D    2,300,800

1912 S    1,370,000

1913        188,627

1913 D      534,000

1913 S      604,000

1914        124,610

1914 S      992,000

1915        138,450

1915 D    1,170,400

1915 S    1,604,000


Barber Half News

Barber Half Dollar News

The Eagle that Landed at the Philadelphia Mint - Townhall


The Eagle that Landed at the Philadelphia Mint
Others depict them in heraldic form, as on the Kennedy half dollar and the Barber half dollar and quarter. Perhaps the most stunning, however, are those that show them in full flight, such as the Saint-Gaudens $20 gold piece and the Standing Liberty ...

and more Â»

Classic US Coins for Less than $500 Each, Part 24: Barber Dimes - CoinWeek (blog)

CoinWeek (blog)

Classic US Coins for Less than $500 Each, Part 24: Barber Dimes
CoinWeek (blog)
The theme here is completing a set of Barber dimes in Very Fine to Almost Uncirculated grades, without spending as much as $500 on any one coin. Naturally toned and pleasant representatives of one or two of the scarcest dates may not be found in VF to ...

Proof Barber type coins trading at low prices | Coin World - Coin World

Coin World

Proof Barber type coins trading at low prices | Coin World
Coin World
At Legend's July 19 online auction, the firm sold a 1900 Barber half dollar graded Proof 66+ Cameo with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker for $4,840. The auction firm hoped that it would surpass the $4,935 that a different example brought last ...

and more Â»

Half a century of haircuts for Essex Junction barber -

Half a century of haircuts for Essex Junction barber
ESSEX JUNCTION – After 50 years on the same job, some people might start thinking about retirement. “Some people” doesn't include Garry Montague. “The guy upstairs is in charge,” Montague said between haircuts Saturday at his business, Garry's Barber ...

and more Â»

Despite pedigree, 1897 Barber half dollar goes unsold | Coin World - Coin World

Coin World

Despite pedigree, 1897 Barber half dollar goes unsold | Coin World
Coin World
An 1897 Barber half dollar graded PCGS Proof 68 Deep Cameo, once in the Newman Collection, went unsold at Legend's Feb. 18 auction in Las Vegas. Original images courtesy of Legend Rare Coin Auctions. 1897 Barber half dollar graded PCGS Proof 68 ...

Collecting on a Budget: Affordable Walking Liberty Half Dollars - Coin Update News

Coin Update News

Collecting on a Budget: Affordable Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Coin Update News
Recently we have taken a look at American coin types that provide opportunities for collectors to purchase interesting coins for less than $100; this article continues the series with the Walking Liberty half dollar. Designed by Adolph Weinman, these ...

Albert Einstein counterstamped on 50¢ coin | Coin World - Coin World

Coin World

Albert Einstein counterstamped on 50¢ coin | Coin World
Coin World
Albert Einstein counterstamped on Barber half dollar. Mel Wacks uses 1915 coin to celebrate Theory of Relativity centennial. By Jeff Starck , Coin World Published : 01/01/16. Print. Text Size. A; A. After being counterstamped by Mel Wacks for the ...

Shireman Set of Gem Barber Half Dollars To Be Auctioned - CoinWeek (blog)

CoinWeek (blog)

Shireman Set of Gem Barber Half Dollars To Be Auctioned
CoinWeek (blog)
The Barber half dollar collection assembled by Dr. Peter Shireman is, by far, the finest intact set that is known to the coin community and was built during a period of more than twenty years. Shireman's set will be the featured specialized collection ...

Key Date Barber Half Dollars - Coin Update News

Coin Update News

Key Date Barber Half Dollars
Coin Update News
The Barber Half Dollar series was introduced the same year as the dime and quarter with the same basic design, replacing the long-lived Liberty seated design in 1892. Of the three series with this design the half dollar is generally considered to be ...

A barber's half-century of clipping hair in a changing Baltimore - Reuters


A barber's half-century of clipping hair in a changing Baltimore
A barber's half-century of clipping hair in a changing Baltimore. left. right. Lenny Clay stands outside his barbershop in Baltimore, Maryland April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Thayer. 4/4. left. right. Lenny Clay is seen at his barber shop in Baltimore ...

and more Â»






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