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The Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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    

1914 Key Date Barber Half, Pcgs Ms62, Flashy White & Pq+ Davidkahnrarecoins 1902o Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty1892-o Key Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Au55 Cac, Sweet! Davidkahnrarecoins1894-o Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Au50, Pleasing And Orig Davidkahnrarecoins1892 Barber 50c Pcgs Graded Au58 Original Toning! Free Shipping, Never Tax!! 1897o Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty 1897-s Pcgs F15 Barber Half Dollar 1896 Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty 1906-d Barber Half Dollar - 100% Original, Attractive Patina, Choice Ngc Vf30 1912d Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty Five1911-s Better Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf35, Choice Davidkahnrarecoins 1898o Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty Five1908-d Barber Silver 50 Cents Choice Uncirculated 1896o Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated FiftyMixed Lot Of 20 Circulated Barber Half Dollars Mixed Dates & Mints C1001892 Barber Half Dollar, Gorgeous Solid Gem Bu++, Very Lustrous. ** Free S/h!1895 Barber Half Dollar Proof, Beautiful Superb Gem Pf++, Just 880 Pr's Minted!Hjb- 1915 D Barber 50¢ Ngc Au581895-s Barber Half Dollar 1907 Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty 1896s Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty 1893o Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty Eight1914-p Barber Half Dollar 50¢1892 Barber Half Dollar Grade Choice Gem Bu *as Pictured* Inv 132 1899 Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty FiveΩ 1906 Barber Half Dollar Vf 1897s Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty Five1898-1903-s Set-original Barber Half Dollars~18 Total 1901 Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty 1915s Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine 1907s Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty Lot Of 42 Usa Barber Half Dollar CoinsBarber Half Dollar, Quarter & Dime Mixed Lot $12.30 Face 1892 - 1916 Coins1909 Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf20, Antique Olive Gray Davidkahnrarecoins1882 United States Barber Half Dollar. Au - Uncirculated Details. (cleaned) 1904s Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty Key To The Series 1905 Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty FiveFull Roll Of Scarce Barber Silver Half Dollars 1915-d Barber Silver Half Dollar Vf Condition No ReserveΩ 1893-s Barber Half Dollar G1907 Pcgs Ms62 Barber Half Dollar - Nice Lustrous White Bu ExampleBarber Half Dollar Lot 25 Silver Half Dollars From 1892 To 1903. Below Melt Valu1907-d Barber Half Dollar, Nice Choice Au Silver Half, ** Free Shipping!1915 Barber Half Anacs Vg 8 1897-s Barber Half Dollar Key Date 99 Cent Start No Reserve1892 50c Barber Half Dollar 1913 Barber Half Dollar Extra Fine Forty 8 Barber Half Dollars 1908-o Pcgs Vf35 Barber Half Dollar1897-s 50c Barber Silver Half Dollar Good Circulated Coin A07461915-s U.s. Barber Liberty Head Silver Half Dollar Ncg Au53 Lot#dg016 Nice! 1894s Barber Half Dollar About Uncirculated Fifty Five1892-s Barber Half Dollar 1906 Barber Half Dollar Ngc Vf 25. Pq +. Super Nice Surfaces1904-s San Francisco Barber Half Dollar Silver Coin Better Date *50 Cents*(11)1900-s San Francisco Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1900-o Barber Half Pcgs Vf25 "cac"1893-s Barber Half Dollar U.s. Coin*lot Of (7) Decent Looking Barber Half Dollars - Estate Fresh*1904-s Barber Silver Half Dollar Vg Condition No Reserve