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Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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

1895 Barber Silver Half Dollar. High End Piece + Free Shipping1907 50c Barber Half Dollar Ms64 Blue Pcgs1906-s Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Xf40, Very Nice Appeal Davidkahnrarecoins1915-d Barber Silver Half Dollar. High Grade+ Free ShippingBarber Half Dollar 1892-o Ngc Vf-251913-s Barber Half Dollar - Vf - Tough Date!1902 Barber Half Dollar - Vf - Nice Color!1899-o 50c Barber Half Dollar - High Grade - Low Mintage 1892-o 50c Barber Half Dollar Ag03 Pcgs Blue LabelDealer Lot Barber Halves Roll 1897-1915,p,d,s,o Mints... No Junk!1896-o Rare Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf20, Pleasing David Kahn Rare Coins1902s Barber Half Dollar “pcgs Graded” Au50 In Holder - Under Graded?Key Date 1892-o Barber Half Dollar 50c1892 Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Au55, Antique Golden Gray Tone Davidkahnrarecoins1903-s Never See These Very High Grade Barber Half Dollar1897 Full Fine 90% Silver Barber Half Dollar Barber Half Dollar 1897-s Ngc Vf-251914-s 50c Barber Half Dollar High Grade - Low Mintage - Key Date 1892-o 50c Barber Half Dollar1907-d Barber Half Dollar - Anacs Graded Au Details Net Ef 40Roll Of 20 Mixed Liberty Head (barber) 90% Silver Half Dollars 1893-1915Drbobcoins Lot Of 24 Circulated Barber Half Dollars G-ng Grade Range1892-s Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Vf-251895-o Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Vf-201914-p 50c Barber Half DollarLot Of 3 Barber Silver Half Dollar 1907 D 1906 S 1912 SLot Of 3 Barber Silver Half Dollar 1899 1908 O 19011892-s 50c Barber Half Dollar1897-o Barber Half Dollar - G/ag - Tough Date1902-o New Orleans Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!Lot Of 2 Barber Silver Half Dollar 1895 1901 O Lot Of 2 Barber Silver Half Dollar 1910 & 1896 S 1906 Barber Half Dollar - F/vfLibrary Of Coins Album- Barber Half Dollars Part 1 Complete Set 1892-19031892-o Never See These Gem Bu+++ Barber Half Dollar1904-1915 Barber Half Dollar Coin Set 32 Pcs 50c In Whitman Blue Book1893-s Barber Half Dollar - G/vg - Tough Date1900-s Barber Half Dollar - Pcgs Au53 - Sweet Lustrous Coin1915 Barber Half Dollar - F+ - Key Date!1894-p 50c Barber Half Dollar1915-s Seldom Found Gem Bu+++++ Barber Half Dollar1915-d U.s. Barber Half Dollar Vf1912 Silver Barber Half Dollar! Ngc Au 58! (us Coin Lot #42)1899 Barber Half Dollar, Sharply Struck Gem Bu++ Silver Half, ** Free Shipping!1908-d Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Xf 40- Very Sharp Detail1900 50c Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Xf401908-o Barber Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1892-p 50c Barber Half Dollar1913 D & 1914 S Barber Half Dollars 1897-o 50c Barber Half Dollar1896-s 50c Barber Half Dollar1907-s Barber Half Dollar - Very Good 1896-o 50c Barber Half DollarKey Date 1897-s Barber Half Dollar 50c1904-o Barber Half Dollar - Very Good 1892-o Barber Half Dollar, Scarce Choice Au++/unc Better Date Silver Half!1901 Barber Half Dollar, Nice Choice Bu++ Silver Half, ** Free Shipping!Barber Half Dollars Mixed Date Average Circulated Full Roll 20 Silver Coins #1Barber Half Dollars Mixed Date Average Circulated Full Roll 20 Silver Coins #21908-s 50c Barber Half Dollar