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Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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

1900 Barber Silver Half Dollar Gem Bu** Lusterous1896-s Rare Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf-25, Light Gray Coin David Kahn Rare Coins1903-s Barber Half Dollar *tough Date Coin From EstateOutstanding 1900-s Barber Half Dollar1905-o Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs F-15, Very Pleasing David Kahn Rare Coins1902 Barber Half, Vf Condition, Only 99 Cents, N.r1893 Barber Half Dollar Unc Toned *tough Date Coin From EstateCirculated 1898-s San Francisco Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1892 - 1915 Barber Silver Half Dollar Full Set Of 73 Coins Lot Of 100 Barber Half Dollars 50¢ United States Coins 90% Silver No ReserveLot Of (20) Barber Silver Half Dollars Mixed Condition (c128)1900-o Barber Head Half Dollar Au1906 50c Barber Half Dollar Anacs Ef40Us Coins: Barber Half Dollers 30 Different In A Whitman Folder 1904//1915s1897 O Barber Silver Half Dollar Vg Very Good Tough Early Date1892 Barber Half Dollar *free Shipping After First Item*Circulated 1898-o Barber Half Dollar 1901 Barber Half Dollar Ngc Au 58$3 Face Value Circulated 1903 Barber Half Dollar 6 Coin Lot 90% SilverUs 1915 S Barber Half Dollar Silver .900 Coin T801Barber Half Dollar 1892-1903 Collection Set 30 Coin Lot Missing 7 Coins 1907 Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Au-58, Golden/olive Tone David Kahn Rare Coins1900 50c Barber Half Dollar Ngc Au-501895 S Barber Half1915 P Silver Barber Half Dollar Coin Key DateCirculated 1915-s San Francisco Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1908 O Barber Half Dollar Very Fine+ Original Better Date Free Shipping (bh303)1894-s Barber Half Dollar *free Shipping After First Item*10 Coin Barber Half Dollar Lot-93o-94o-94s-95o-95s-96o-96s-98o-98s-99o- No Reser1907/15 "liberty Head" Barber Half Dollar Starter Set "g/vg" (17 Coins Total)Nice 1899 O Barber Silver Half Dollar Full Liberty Better Date Coin1896-o Barber Half Dollar- Rare Key Date- VfBarber Half Dollar Lot Of 4 Different Issues, 1904 1906d 1907d 1908d1894 P Silver Barber Half Dollar*Lot Of (10) Barber Silver Half Dollars Mixed Condition (c128)1907-d Barber Half Dollar *tough Date Coin From Estate1 Partial Roll 90% Silver Barber Halves (15 Coins--roll E)1910-s Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf-25 Decent Quality David Kahn Rare CoinsA Lot Of Thirty ( 30 ) Assorted U.s. Notes And Silver Coins + 3 Bonus Items1908-s Barber Silver Half Dollar Vf **from Old Estate- Manila Envelope Toning1913-d .50¢ Barber Silver Half Dollar Semi-key Date Fifty Cents Coin 1905 Barber Silver Half Dollar Fine Nice Original Silver Coin1915 Liberty Head Barber Half Dollar 50 Cents Ngc G 61912-s Strong Liberty Key Date Barber Half Dollar From Big Collection1902 Barber Half,1943 Walking Half,1960 Franklin Half 90% Silver Type Coins LotCirculated 1907-d Denver Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1897-s Barber Half Dollar1915-d Barber Half Dollar // Vf-xf // 90% Silver // (bh300)1912-d 50c Barber Half Dollar1899-o 1900-o 1902-o 1903-o 1904-o 1905-s 1911-s 1912-s 1913-d 1913-s 14-s 15-s1914 Barber Half Dollar *free Shipping After First Item*Mix Lot 15 Coins, Barber, Walking Liberty & Franklin 90%silver Nice Mix Lot.1915 Barber Half Dollar Key Date 138 Thousand Low Mintage Nice Grade Coin*4 Excellent Silver Half Dollar Us Coin Lot: Barber, Liberty, Franklin, Kennedy*1913 S Silver Standing Liberty Walking Half Dollar $.50 Estate Coin Low Start Nr1893 Barber Half Dollar *free Shipping After First Item*1911 S Silver Barber Half Dollar*1909 Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf-20, Pleasing & Original David Kahn Rare Coins1899 Barber Half Dollar, Tough Coin, ** Free Shipping!1915 Estate Find Barber Half Dollar!!