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Barber dime has the same obverse but a different reverse, in which the half dollar and quarter’s heraldic eagle has been replaced by a wreath and the words “ONE DIME.”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

1893 O Barber Half Dollar High Grade Bu. Better Date1912 Barber Half Dollar, Proof Pcgs Pr 65 * Very Cameo Look, Tough Pf This Nice!1904 Barber Half Dollar, Smooth Gem Bu++ Silver Half, ** Free Shipping!1895 S Barber Half Dollar High Grade Bu. Better Date1908-d Barber Half Dollar, Nice White Bu++ Silver Half, ** Free Shipping!1915-s Barber Half Dollar, Better Date San Francisco Issue ** Choice Au!3 Rolls Barber Silver Half Dollars**** Nice Grade1910-s Better Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Vf25, Choice Davidkahnrarecoins1908-o Barber Half Dollar Pcgs Au501904 To 1915-s Barber Silver Half Dollar Starter Set Album, 15 Coins1905-s San Francisco Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1901-s Barber Half, Key Date !!!, Rare !!, Vf !!, P-3521United States Barber 1/4 Dollar 1899 S #cif1903-s Barber Silver Half Dollar1906-s Better Date Barber Half, Pcgs Vf25, Pleasing & Orig Davidkahnrarecoins1908 Barber Silver Half Dollar Eric P Newman Collection - Ngc Ms 64 Condition1893 Barber Half Dollar 50c Proof Pf 63 Cameo Ngc1892 Barber Silver Half Dollar Ngc Ms 64 Condition20 Total 1894-s Barber Silver Half Dollars Roll**** Better Dates1907 Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Au50, Medium Golden Olive Tone Davidkahnrarecoins1914 50c Barber Half Dollar G04Lot Of 5 50c Barber Silver Half Dollars 1906-p 1915-d 1904-o 1901-o 1906-o (21)1898-o Tough Date Barber Half Dollar, Pcgs Au Det, Original Davidkahnrarecoins1907 Silver Barber Half Dollar Coin 50c Au Details Ngc Holder Philadelphia Us1892 O Barber Half Dollar Good-1907-d Barber Half Dollar ** Free Shipping!1894 1908 (2) 1912 And 1913 (2) Half Dollars. Lot Of Six1893s Barber Half Dollar Silver Coin Key Date 1898 O Barber Half Dollar - A Very Good Coin - Free Shipping1907-d Barber Half Dollar, ** Free Shipping!Lot Of 2 Barber Half Dollars - 1909 & 19121902 Barber Half Dollar - A Very Good/fine Coin + Even Wear ....free Shipping!1895 Barber Half Dollar1906-d Denver Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1896-s Barber Half. In Ngc Holder. F. 12. E3071893-s Barber Half. In Ngc Holder. V.g. 10. E3061913 Pcgs G06 50c Barber Silver Half Dollar Better Date Good Details #13711895-s Barber Half Dollar1915 50c Barber Half Dollar Coin Graded Ngc Vg 81896-s 50c Pcgs Genuine Tooled-g Detail Barber Silver Half Dollar #13671915-d Barber Half Dollar, Better Date & Grade1914-s Barber Half Dollar - Vg (very Good) - No Reserve!!!Barber 50 Cents 1894 Rim Bruise, Scratches, Cleaned1910-s San Francisco Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1900-s San Francisco Mint Silver Barber Half Dollar Free Shipping!1911 Barber Half Dollar! Vf Details! 50c! Us Coin Lot #58291896-o Barber Half Dollar1898-0 Barber Half Dollar1895-s Barber Half Dollar1902-s Barber Half Dollar, Better Date & Grade1907-d Barber Half Dollar, ** Free Shipping!1892-o Barber Half Dollar - Scarce Date!1913 Barber Half DollarBarber Half Dollar Lot (6) 1906 D 1908 O 1907 O DBarber Half Dollar Lot (5) 1908 O 1906 D 1909 D1907 D Barber Half Dollar - About Uncirculated Details1895-o Barber Half Dollar1895-0 Barber Half Dollar1892 P Barber Half Dollar 50 Cent Coin You Grade It 1892 P Barber Half Dollar 50 Cent Coin! No Reserve! 1st Year! Free Shipping! C63