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The Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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-s Key Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf20, Very Pleasing David Kahn Rare Coins50c 1900-s Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf30 * Avenuecoin1896-o Rare Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf25, Med Gray David Kahn Rare CoinsNgc Graded 1912 Barber Half Dollar Au581900-s Barber Half Dollar (e134)13 Barber Half Dollars 1902, 1906, 1906-d, 1907, 1907-d, 1907-o, 1908-d, 1908-o50c 1892-s Barber Half Good/a.good Details * Avenuecoin1892 - 1915 Barber Half Dollar Full Roll 20 Coins Good + Roll Nice Coins1892-o Barber Half Dollar Silver Coin Light DamageBarber Half Dollar Set - 1 Missing - (ô¿ô)Lot Of 7 Barber Liberty Head Half Dollar Various Years1902-s Barber Silver Half Dollar Coin - No Reserve - *free S&h Usa*Barber Half Dollars 1906-d, 1908-o - Lot Of 2 Silver Coins, No Reserve!Lot Of Ten - Silver Barber Halfs - Circulated. Item #19391905-s ~barber Half Dollar~ Free Shipping *hucky* 1915 50c Vf 35 Anacs Certified Barber Half Dollar Low Mintage Semi-key Date!1893-s Barber Half Pcgs Vg04 Silver Half Dollar Better Date (vl1003)Lot Of Eleven - Silver Barber Halfs - Circulated. Item #1938Lot Of Eleven - Silver Barber Halfs - Circulated. Item #19371892 O Barber Silver Half Dollar (tp1892-s Barber Half Dollar, Rare Key Date, ** Free Shipping!1892 Barber Half Dollar - Unc!!!Circulated 1894-o New Orleans Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1897 Barber Half Dollar 50c Pcgs Secure Ms62 *freshly Graded New Holder*1904-1915 Barber Half Dollar 50c Set Whitman Album 26 Coins Keys 1907-s 1908-sLot Of Ten - Silver Barber Halfs - Circulated. Item #1941U.s Barber Half-dollars (10 Coins Total - See Details Below)(3) Morgan Silver Dollars 1904-p, 1904-o & 1904-s.1912 D Barber Half Dollar 90% Silver Fine FnLot Of 3 Barber Silver Half Dollars - Lot 3 Dates: 1894-o 1897 1899-sLot Of 3 Barber Silver Half Dollars - Lot 2 Dates: 1898 1900 19061898 - 1913 Barber Half Dollar Full Roll 20 Coins Good + Roll Nice CoinsLot Of Ten - Silver Barber Halfs - Circulated. Item #19401893-o Liberty Head "barber" Half Dollar - Fine *scarce * Low Mintage*1914 Barber Half Dollar Anacs Vg8 Details Key Date Silver1906 O Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Vf 30 Nice Full Detail New Orleans MintLot/bulk: Five (5) 90% Silver Barber Half Dollar Coins $2.50 Face Value Junk1898 Barber Half Dollar Au + - 1908- D - Barber Quarter - Very Nice - Strong Liberty1905-o 50c Barber Silver Half Dollar Circulated Coin !1913 Barber Half Good 6 Anacs Certified Details 188,000 Minted Free Shipping!1915 D Barber Half Dollar 90% Silver Fine Fn1892 Barber Half Dollar, 90% Silver. #282Lot Of 6: Barber Half Dollars... 1906, 1907, 1908-o, 1910-s, 1912, And 1914-s1908s Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Graded Vg08 1908-o ~barber Half Dollar~ Free Shipping *hucky* 90% Silver Lot Of (3) Barber Half Dollars: 1900, 1901, 1906-dLot Of 3 Barber Silver Half Dollars - Lot 4 Dates: 1901-s 1902-o 1903.Lot Of 5 Silver Barber Half Dollars, Estate Sale Find (5678)1903-o Us Barber Half Dollar1914 Barber Half Dollar - Good Condition 1911-d Barber Half Dollar 50¢Circulated 1908-d Denver Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1914-s 50c Barber Silver Half Dollar Fine Details Cleaned Rim Bump Coin Sku 71551898-s Barber / Liberty Head Half Dollar, Reverse Better Grade (a)» 1911-s « Barber Half Dollar 50¢ 1911 Barber Half Dollar 50¢ 1911-s Barber Half Dollar 50¢Lot Of 20 Barber Half Dollars. Mixed Dates & Mint Marks All Different 1900-19111895 Barber Half Dollar Graded High Grade