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The Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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 Barber Half Dollar, Fully Struck Choice Bu, Details Cleaned, ** Free S/h!Lot Of 100 Barber Half Dollars 50¢ United States Coins 90% Silver No ReserveUs Coins: Barber Half Dollers 30 Different In A Whitman Folder 1904//1915s1907 Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Au-58, Golden/olive Tone David Kahn Rare Coins1900-o Barber Head Half Dollar AuCirculated 1898-o Barber Half Dollar 1892 - 1915 Barber Silver Half Dollar Full Set Of 73 Coins 1912-d 50c Barber Half DollarCirculated 1908-d Denver Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1900-s Barber Silver Half Dollar ~ Nice Original Fine / Very Fine 1903 Barber Half Dollar, Gorgeous Gem Proof, Ultra Deep Mirrors, * Free Shipping1901 Barber Half Dollar Ngc Au 581897 Barber Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1896 -s Au Barber Half Dollar ,50c. Better Date Silver Coin, 1/2 Dollar, Au1899 Barber Half Dollar, Tough Coin, ** Free Shipping!A Lot Of Thirty ( 30 ) Assorted U.s. Notes And Silver Coins + 3 Bonus Items1900-o Pcgs Vf35 Barber Half1910 Pcgs Vf20 Barber Half1900-s Pcgs Xf40 Barber Half1897-s Barber Half Dollar1892 Pcgs Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Ms 62 ** Super Smooth Silver Surfaces!1915-s Barber Half Dollar - Old Us Silver Type Coin1899 Barber Silver Half Dollar Bu** Lusterous1897-o Pcgs F12 Barber Half1912-s Strong Liberty Key Date Barber Half Dollar From Big Collection1905-s Barber HalfCirculated 1915-s San Francisco Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1912-s Pcgs Vf25 Barber Half1912-d 50c Barber Silver Half Dollar Better Date** Honest Coin**1906 S 50c Barber Or Liberty Head Half Dollar1902-s Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf-20, Nice & Orig David Kahn Rare Coins1915 Barber Half Dollar Key Date 138 Thousand Low Mintage Nice Grade Coin1894 P Silver Barber Half Dollar*1900 P Barber Half Dollar -- Circulated, Vf Condition1913-s Barber Half Dollar Silver 50c Cent United States Coin1902-o Better Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs F-15, Sweet David Kahn Rare Coins1904 Barber "pop Out" Coins - Dime Quarter Half Dollar - 3d - Authentic Coins!!!1904-s Better Date Barber Head Half Dollar G+1911 S Silver Barber Half Dollar*1894-o Barber Silver Half Dollar ~ Very Good 1900 U.s. Barber Half Dollar Pcgs UncBarber Half Dollar 1904-1915 Collection Set Complete Lot W/ Whitman FolderLot Of (20) Barber Silver Half Dollars (c130)Lot Of (20) Barber Silver Half Dollars (c132.2)1910 Liberty Head Barber Half Dollar 50 Cents Ngc Vg 101896-s Us Barber Half Dollar1904 P Silver Barber Half Dollar*1902-s Liberty Head Barber Half Dollar 50 Cents Ngc F 121908 Liberty Head Barber Half Dollar 50 Cents Ngc F 151908 Us Barber Style Half Dollar1909 U.s. Barber Half Dollar Pcgs AuCirculated 1897-o Barber Half Dollar Usa, Barber Half Dollar 1906 - Silver - Scarce - No Reserve1879 S Morgan Silver Dollar Fully Prooflike Surfaces1908-o Barber Half Dollar Silver 50c Cent United States CoinBarber Half Dollar 1915-d1900o Us Barber Liberty Silver Half Dollar! "liberty Shows"! Old Us Coins!Circulated 1894-o Barber Half Dollar Circulated 1907-d Denver Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1895 Silver Barber Half Dollar Circulated