Half Dime, Seated Liberty, Coin Type from United States - detailed information

Half Dime, Seated Liberty, Coin Type from United States (issued 1837 - 1873)
Coin TypeHalf Dime, Seated Liberty

The Half Dime is an American silver coin with a face value of five cents which was minted between 1794 and 1873. These coins were much smaller than dimes in diameter and thickness, appearing to be "half dimes" and are called so from the start, even though until 1837 this was not actually spelled out on the coins themselves.

After the initial issue of a "Half Disme" in 1794 (note the additional S in the name) - which many people consider a pattern, the "Flowing Hair" type was only struck for two years and was replaced by the "Draped Bust" type, then the Capped Bust obverse until 1837. In 1837, the type was replaced by the Seated Liberty type, and composition was changed to 90% silver and 10% copper. The weight was 1.34 grams initially, then changed to 1.24 grams in 1853. The lighter coins were initially marked by having arrow heads on both sides of the date. The arrows stayed in the design until 1855 and were then removed (the coins remained lighter). This design change was also implemented on the one dime, quarter dollar and half dollar coins, which were also made lighter.

The Seated Liberty portrait designs appeared on most regular-issue silver United States coinage from 1836 through 1891. The denominations which feature the Goddess of Liberty in a Seated Liberty design include the half dime, the dime, the quarter, the half dollar, and until 1873 the silver dollar, as well as the short-lived twenty cent piece. The obverse shows Liberty seated on a rock, holding a pole with a Liberty cap on it and supporting a shield. On the reverse, the denomination is spelled as HALF DIME, unlike on earlier or later types.

The silver format of the half dime was discontinued in 1873, but the coins have never been demonetised and are still legal tender. This, of course, is of academic interest only, as their numismatic value is enormously higher than their face value.

Obverse
United States / Half Dime, Seated Liberty - obverse photo

The obverse of the coin shows the symbolic figure of Liberty clad in a flowing dress and seated upon a rock. In her left hand, she holds a Liberty pole surmounted by a Phrygian cap (a type of cap which in Ancient Rome was worn by freed slaves). With her right hand, she supports the Union Shield, which has thirteen vertical stripes, white and red, with a blue horizontal bar on top. The colours are represented by heraldic hatching (thin lines indicating the colour - horizontal stripes for blue, vertical for red, no stripes for white). Across the shield, a diagonal banner inscribed with the word LIBERTY.

During 1840, the design was slightly modified with additional drapery of Liberty's dress, flowing down from her left elbow.

Between 1838 and 1859, there were thirteen stars around above representing the 13 original states. In 1860 and later, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA instead.

In the exergue below the figure, the date of issue: [year]. Between 1853 and 1855, arrows on both sides of the date indicate a reduction in the weight of the denomination.

The rim is beaded.

Obverse Inscription ************* [year]
Reverse
United States / Half Dime, Seated Liberty - reverse photo

There were two versions of the reverse design. Both of them display, at centre, the value and denomination HALF DIME (five cents) on two lines, surrounded by a wreath.

The earlier reverse (1837 to 1859), by Christian Gobrecht, has a laurel wreath surrounding the value. Around the outer rim, the name of the country: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

The later reverse (1860 to 1873), by James Barton Longacre, has a larger and more detailed wreath of wheat (called a "cereal wreath" by some sources) and no legend around (it was transferred to the obverse).

Coins struck by the Philadelphia Mint have no mint mark. Coins struck by other mints have a mint mark in the form of a small letter above (1838 - 1859, 1870 - 1872) or below (1860 - 1869, 1872 - 1873) the ribbon tying the wreath.

The rim is beaded.

Reverse Inscription HALF DIME UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
EdgeMilledEdge InscriptionNone
Notes

In some online catalogues, the denomination is cryptically abbreviated as "H10C", from "half 10-cent", or "half dime"...

Coin Type: Half Dime, Seated Liberty - (37) Coins
Coin NameMintageSymbolLegend
Half Dime 1837 Seated Liberty 1,405,000 Seated Liberty 1837
Half Dime 1838 Seated Liberty 2,295,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1838
Half Dime 1839 Seated Liberty 2,129,150 Seated Liberty ************* 1839
Half Dime 1840 Seated Liberty 2,279,085 Seated Liberty ************* 1840
Half Dime 1841 Seated Liberty 1,965,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1841
Half Dime 1842 Seated Liberty 1,165,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1842
Half Dime 1843 Seated Liberty 1,165,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1843
Half Dime 1844 Seated Liberty 650,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1844
Half Dime 1845 Seated Liberty 1,564,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1845
Half Dime 1846 Seated Liberty 27,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1846
Half Dime 1847 Seated Liberty 1,274,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1847
Half Dime 1848 Seated Liberty 1,268,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1848
Half Dime 1849 Seated Liberty 1,449,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1849
Half Dime 1850 Seated Liberty 1,645,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1850
Half Dime 1851 Seated Liberty 1,641,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1851
Half Dime 1852 Seated Liberty 1,260,500 Seated Liberty ************* 1852
Half Dime 1853 Seated Liberty 15,705,020 Seated Liberty *************←1853 →
Half Dime 1854 Seated Liberty 7,300,000 Seated Liberty *************←1854 →
Half Dime 1855 Seated Liberty 2,350,000 Seated Liberty *************←1855 →
Half Dime 1856 Seated Liberty 5,980,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1856
Half Dime 1857 Seated Liberty 8,660,000 Seated Liberty ************* 1857
Half Dime 1858 Seated Liberty 5,160,300 Seated Liberty ************* 1858
Half Dime 1859 Seated Liberty 900,800 Seated Liberty ************* 1859
Half Dime 1860 Seated Liberty 1,859,000 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1860
Half Dime 1861 Seated Liberty 3,361,000 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1861
Half Dime 1862 Seated Liberty 1,492,550 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1862
Half Dime 1863 Seated Liberty 118,460 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1863
Half Dime 1864 Seated Liberty 138,470 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1864
Half Dime 1865 Seated Liberty 133,500 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1865
Half Dime 1866 Seated Liberty 130,725 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1866
Half Dime 1867 Seated Liberty 128,625 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1867
Half Dime 1868 Seated Liberty 369,200 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1868
Half Dime 1869 Seated Liberty 438,600 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1869
Half Dime 1870 Seated Liberty 536,001 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1870
Half Dime 1871 Seated Liberty 2,034,960 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1871
Half Dime 1872 Seated Liberty 3,784,950 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1872
Half Dime 1873 Seated Liberty 1,036,600 Seated Liberty UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1873
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Half Dime, Seated Liberty: Details
CountryUnited States
CurrencyUS Dollar
Sub-type ofFive Cents
From1837
To1873
Face Value5 (x Cent)
CurrentNo; withdrawn 1873
Material0.900 Silver
DesignerChristian Gobrecht, James Barton Longacre
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
Size15.500 mm
Thickness1.950 mm
Mass1.340 g