Evolution of a Denomination Series: Half Dime Part Two

We last left you in this blog series talking about the Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle Reverse Half dime design that was produced from 1800-1805. While the small denomination coin proved to be important and convenient, production ceased in 1805 due to the United States Mint’s limitations when it came to making enough. Markets and banks were still partial to the Mexican silver half reales that were worth around six cents. This continued until 1829 when the use of the half dime would once return but with a different design.

Capped Bust (1829-1837)

With the reemergence of the half dime in 1829 during the first year of President Andrew Jackson’s presidency, it came back with a different look than previous types. Slightly smaller, the obverse design featured a left-facing Lady Liberty with curly hair tucked inside a cap. She is seen surrounded by 13 stars and the date below her. The reverse was also different, featuring an eagle with a shield on its breast. In its last year of production, only 871,000 Capped Bust Half Dimes were produced in comparison to the over 1.2 million produced in its first year of 1829.

Seated Liberty (1837-1873)

The final design of the half dime denomination series featured its fair number of varieties as it endured the longest as it was produced for 36 years. The Liberty Seated design first made its appearance on July 25, 1837, as a total of 1,405,000 were produced in its first year with the No Stars on Obverse variety. The variety was produced in 1838 but only at New Orleans as around 70,000 pieces were struck.

However, the year 1838 also saw the second variety in the Stars on the Obverse that were struck until 1853. A third variety would make its appearance in 1853 as it featured arrows on either side of the date at the bottom of the obverse. This lasted until 1855 until the Mint would decide to revert back to the variety two without the arrows and a new weight standard. This continued until 1859 when finally a fourth variety would take its place in 1860 and prevail until the demise of the denomination in 1873. The final variety would feature a legend on the obverse, replacing the 13 stars and reading “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. These half dimes were produced at Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

In 1873, the Coinage Act of 1873 would change the weights of the dime, quarter dollar, and half dollar to meet metric standards. This new legislation in addition would end production of a number of denominations, including the half dime.

Source: The Official 2021 Red Book; NGCCoin.com