Collectible US Barber Half Dollar Coins

Few people have had as much impact on U.S. coinage as Charles E. Barber (1840 - 1917). The son of William Barber, who was the Mint’s Chief Engraver from 1869 to 1979, Charles Barber spent almost 40 years in the post his father occupied until his untimely death. The dimes, quarters, and half dollars the younger Barber designed, all of which were released in 1892, are routinely named for him today by coin collectors and scholars alike.

The Barber or Liberty Head half dollar, as it is also known, featured essentially the same obverse and reverse and the Barber quarter. The Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”

In a way, none of these designs should exist, but the Mint Act of 1890 dictated that the design of coins must change every 25 years—dimes, quarters, and half dollars were due for a face lift in 1891. At the U.S. Treasury’s instigation, 300 sculptors submitted designs for these coins but they all faced a very tough juror, Charles E. Barber, who most experts agree wanted the opportunity for himself all along. Not surprisingly, then, Barber ended up redesigning the coins.

The Seated Liberty half dollars that preceded Barber’s version depicted the full figure of Lady Liberty, clad in robes and holding a shield. The Barber coins revealed only Liberty’s head and neck. Among other characteristics, the coin is notable for its profusion of stars—13 appear on both the obverse and reverse, a double nod, no doubt, to the nation’s founding 13 colonies.

Throughout its run from 1892 until 1915, the Barber half dollar was minted in plentiful amounts. Although the coins was modified slightly in 1901 to sharpen the appearance of the leaves in one of the eagle’s talons, and again in 1908 and 1912 (in these cases, the changes are really the result of new hubs), the coin had a mostly sleepy history.

The exceptions occurred in 1892, when the “O” mintmark to designate the New Orleans mint was struck at the same size as the “O” mintmark used on quarters. This “microscopic O,” as it is called, is far more rare than other coins minted in New Orleans that year, and typically trades at 20 times the normal version’s value.

Other Barber half dollars that are especially prized by collectors include the 1901, 1904, and 1907 coins minted in San Francisco—of the three, those from 1904 are the rarest.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1912-d Barber Half, Pcgs Ms-63, Completely Original (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)1908 50c Pcgs Ms64 Barber Half Dollar - No Reserve!1900-s Barber Half Dollar Au **better Grade** 90% Silver U.s. Coin1897-s Barber Half Dollar 50c - Rare High Grade Coin1912 Barber Half Dollar Pcgscac Pr62 Nice Toning1903-o Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Xf 401905 Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1897-o Barber Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs Vf20 - Certified Coin1913-s Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf 301909 50c Pcgs/cac Ms64 Barber Half Dollar - No Reserve!1913 Barber Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs G06 - Certified & Graded *no Reserve!1908-d Barber Half Dollar, Ngc Xf 401896-s Barber Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1904-o Barber 50 Cents Pcgs Vg101899-p Barber Half Dollar - Fine Details 1901-o Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf-20, Orig & Nice (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)1893 Barber Half Dollar Au Condition1892 .50 Barber Half Dollar Very Nice1913 D Barber Silver Half Dollar With Free Shipping!!!1895 P Barber Dime, Vf/xf Semi-key Date With Dark Obverse1892-o New Orleans Us Barber Silver Half Dollar Coin1892o Barber Half Dollar Ag1907 Barber Half Dollar Ngc Ms 63 Condition With Color1908 D Pcgs Au 53 Barber Half Dollar1898-s Better Date Barber Half Dollar Au+ Condition1912 D Barber Half Dollar- 50c1898-s Barber Half Dollar 50c - Tough Better Date - Vg+ - Raw Coin - No Reserve!1906 Barber Half Dollar, Great Date, ** Free Shipping!1899-s Silver Barber Half Dollar With Free S/h!!!1895 Silver Barber Half Dollar Free S/h!!!1901 Barber Half Dollar - Au Beauty!1895-s Barber Half Dollar 501915 Barber Half Dollar......key Date!..........no Reserve!Doc's Key Date 1897 Barbrer Half Dollar - Very Nice Overall Condition Nr!1899-s Nice High Grade Barber Half Dollar!!1901 Barber Half Dollar--sharp Au/unc Details1901-p Barber Half Dollar - Fine Details 1912 Barber Silver Half Dollar. Very Nice Condition.1898 Barber Half DollarRoll (20) Of Circulated 90% Silver Barber Half Dollars1892s Barber Half Dollar Vg1907 Barber Half Dollar -- Nice Xf/au1912 S Barber Half Dollar1897- S Barber Silver Half Dollar- Key Date And Free Shipping!!1894-s Barber Half Dollar, Very Good ConditionRoll Of 20 Barber Half Dollars Mixed Dates; Older Junk 90% Silver1912-d Silver Barber Half Dollar Free S/h!!!1907-s Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs F-12, Original (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)Lot Of (3) United States 1898-1909 Barber 50c Half Dollar Silver Coins Vg/f1911-d Barber Half Dollar - Fine Details 1915-s Pcgs Vf30 Barber Half Dollar - No Reserve1902-s Barber Half Dollar - Very Good Details 1900 S Silver Barber Half Dollar Liberty On Head Scratched No Rsrv !Good 1896 S Barber Half Dollar. Free Shipping!1913-d Barber Half Dollar - Fine Details 1907 50c Barber Half Dollar Ngc Au Details No Reserve AuctionBarber Silver Half Dollar 1913-d Denver Mint- Low Mintage1913 S 50c Barber Half Dollar Mint Mark Date And Details Are Readable 1895-o Silver Barber Half Dollar Free S/h!!!1912 Barber Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs Au50 - Certified & Graded*no Reserve!