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Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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

Complete Set - 73 Ag/vg Barber Halfs In 1892-1915 (2) Whitman Albums Id# Y5211900 Barber Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs Xf45 Certified & Graded *no Reserve!1894s Barber Half Dollar1900 Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Certified Ms-621892-o 50c Barber Half Dollar Key Date1892-s Barber Half Dollar.1892-s Barber Half Dollar, Rare Key Date, ** Seldom Seen First Year Issue!1898-o Barber Half Reserve!1894p Barber Half Dollar1892p Barber Half Dollar1905o Barber Half DollarOld Roll Of Silver Barber Half Dollars In Very Nice Original Good To Fine Grade1893s Barber Half Dollar1893p Barber Half DollarOld Roll Of Silver Barber Half Dollars In Very Nice Original Good To Fine Grade1914p Barber Half Dollar1914 Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1896p Barber Half Dollar1915p Barber Half Dollar1897o Barber Half Dollar1898 S Barber Silver Half Dollar Low Combined Shipping!!1904 Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!Barber Seven Coins: 5 Half Dollars, 2 Quarters 90% Silver Lot1910 50c Silver Barber Half DollarKey Date 1915-p Silver Barber Half Dollar. I Grade G - G+. Only 138,450 Minted1895o Barber Half Dollar1904-s Vg Full Rims Barber Liberty Head Half Dollar Rbz 1903p Barber Half Dollar1913 Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1905-o Decent Rims Barber Liberty Head Half Dollar Rbz 1911 Ms+++++ Barber Half Dollar From Big CollectionLot Of 24 Barber Halves And Four Bonus Halves (108656)1892-o 50c Barber Half Dollar1909-s Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Xf-40, Quite Choice David Kahn Rare Coins1913s Barber Half DollarOld Roll Of Silver Barber Half Dollars In Very Nice Original Good To Fine Grade1893 Barber Half Dollar Proof, Flashy Silver Proof Surfaces * Ultra Deep Mirrors1913 Barber Half Dollar 50c - Pcgs Vg08 - Certified & Graded *no Reserve!20 Liberty Head Half Dollars 1 Roll Barber 90% Silver Random Date $10 Face Value1913 D Barber Half Dollar Ngc Certified Vf Details.1894-s Circulated Very Fine Or Better Barber Half Dollar1906p Barber Half Dollar1911 Barber Half Dollar, Good Date! ** Free Shipping!1896 Barber "o" €1909-p Barber Half Dollar - Very Fine Details 1905-s Barber Half - I Grade Fine - See Scan For Your Verification1909-o Half Dollar Graded Vg10 By Pcgs - Barber1893 Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!Lot Of 4 Barber Half Dollars 90% 1899-p, 1903-o, 1904-o, 1909-s (4786)1910 Barber Half Dollar1898o Barber Half Dollar1894o Barber Half Dollar1897 Silver Barber Half Dollar Philadelphia 50c***fast Free Shipping!!1909-p Barber Half Dollar 50c - Vf / Details - Obv. Damaged *no Reserve!1905-s 50c Barber Half Dollar1902 S Barber Half Dollar Over A Hundred Years Old!!Lot Of 20 Avg. Circulated Barber / Liberty Head 90% Silver Half Dollars C993Roll Of (21) Mixed Date Barber Half Dollars. All Have Full Rims.1 Roll Silver Barber Half Dollars - One Day Only10 Barber Half Dollar $5 Face Value Mixed Dates #347