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History Of The Barber Half Dollar

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Charles E. Barber designed the Barber Half Dollars during his commission as the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. President Benjamin Harrison approved the Barber design in November, 1891, and the Mint issued the coins from 1892 until 1915 when it was replaced by the Weinman’s Walking Liberty. Each coin contains 0.36 ounces of silver.

Initially, a competition took place for a new design, but the entries did not hold up to the Mint’s standards. On the obverse side of the coin, Barber’s design has a Liberty head facing to the right that wears a wreath and a Phrygian cap. Thirteen six-pointed stars surrounded the head.

On the reverse side, he used a heraldic eagle with 13 five-pointed stars which are located over the eagles head rather than around the edge of the coin. The stars represent each of the original states. The ribbon with E Pluribus Unum runs behind the eagle rather than in its beak. The eagle’s right wing tip slightly covers the e in United, while the eagle’s left wing tip covers most of the e in America. The original design called for clouds over the eagle. However President Harrison and his cabinet decided against the clouds in the final version.

The New Orleans and San Francisco mint marks changed over the years on the Barber Half Dollar. In all, a complete collection consists of seventy-three different coins.