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Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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

1892-o Barber Half Dollar Very Cool Original Contemporary Cf1904 Barber United States Silver Half Dollar 1/2 $ 50 Cents 50c Coin Pcgs Xf451896-o Rare Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf20, Med Gray David Kahn Rare Coins1908-s Better Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Au53, Tough! David Kahn Rare Coins1895-o Tough Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf30, Crusty Original David Kahn Rare CoinsComplete Set - 73 Ag-fine Barber Halves (2) Whitman Albums 1892-1915 Id# Q3471898 Barber Half, Pcgs Xf45 Cac, Super Choice & Original David Kahn Rare CoinsHjb - 1895 S Barber Half Dollar Unc Details Cleaned Pcgs Genuine Xf Au -- 1893-o -- Barber Half Dollar -- Very Nice1896-s American Liberty Head Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Professionaly Graded Vf351892-s Key Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf20, Very Pleasing David Kahn Rare CoinsBarber Half Dollar Lot, 16 Total, Various Grades, Estate Sale, .99 Auction Start1896 Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs F15, Surprisingly Tough David Kahn Rare Coins1906-d Barber Half Dollar, Ngc Xf 401907-o Barber Half Nice About Uncirculated Grade Investment A-141914 Barber Half Dollar A Good Coin1905 Pcgs Barber Half Dollar Proof Pcgs Pr 64 * Attractive Toning! * 727 Issued!1909 S Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Vf 20 Silvery / Grey Full Detail1913-p Barber Half Dollar Amazingly Beautiful Condition Rare! Key Date1906 Barber Half Dollar Proof, Impressive Slid Gem Pf ** Just 675 Struck!1904 Barber Proof Half Dollar Ngc Pf62 *hucky* 1892 O New Orleans Barber Silver Half Dollar-rare Key Date With Free Ship!Circulated 1908-o New Orleans Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1910 – S Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Vf25 Hard To FindBarber Half Dollar Roll, Ag-g, Worth A Peek, Estate Sale, .99 Auction Start1892 Barber Half Dollar 50c Solid Au DetailsBarber Silver Half Dollars, Lot Of 5, Circulated, Uncertified No Reserve!!1915-s Barber Half Dollar 1898 Barber Half DollarBarber Silver Half Dollar Lot - 5 Coins All Diff. Dates Circulated #01253460sSilver U.s. Barber Coin Lot Of 3 Coins - 1900 Dime 1903 Quarter 1907 Half Dollar1892-o Barber Half Dollar Ag-g1912-s Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Xf40, Olive/gray David Kahn Rare CoinsLot 12 Barber G-f Half Dollar Silver Coins 1895 1898 1904 1907 1908 1912 1913 1913-s Better Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf25, Pleasing David Kahn Rare Coins1892-s Barber Half Dollar 1913p Barber HalveBarber Silver Half Dollar Lot - 5 Coins All Diff. Dates Circulated #01253459sRare 2001-p Pcgs Ms 70 Capitol Visitor 1912 S Barber Half Dollar..choice Original W/ Full Liberty & Tons Of!1905 Barber Half Dollar Very Fine1892 Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Au551901 50c Barber Half Silver Dollar Ngc Proof Pr67 "ngc Price Guide $8800" Gem1898 - 1915 Barber Half Dollar Lot Of 19 Coins No Duplicates Not Scrap1909 P Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Vf 20 Silvery Grey Full Detail1896 O Barber Half Dollar A Very Good Coin1893 S Barber Half Dollar A Good CoinLot Of Six Silver Barber Half Dollars1895 S Barber Half Dollar A Very Good Coin1913 Barber Half Dollar A Good Coin1893-o Barber Half Dollar VgComplete Set Of Barber Half Dollars Silver Barber Halves Beautiful Lot 50c1906-d Blast White Barber Half Dollar From Big Collection1912-d Barber Half Dollar, Choice Au Silver Piece, ** Free Shipping!1896 S Barber Half Dollar A Good CoinBarber Silver Half Dollar Lot - 5 Coins All Diff. Dates Circulated #01253463s(10) 1899-1911 Barber Half Dollars Mixed Dates & Mint Marks 50c1914 Barber Half Dollar..key Date..choice Original G+/vg W/ Tons Of!!1895 50c Barber Silver Half Dollar1893 S - Barber Half Dollar - Icg Ag 3