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    90% Silver Barber Halves ($1 FV, Cull)
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    90% Silver Half Dollars from JM Bullion

    The United States half dollar was the second-largest denomination of US silver currency for more than a century and, today, is the largest US coin circulating by size and weight. The only US silver coin ever issued that was larger than the half dollar was the US silver dollar. Unlike many of its historic counterparts, the US half dollar has been produced every year since 1794. Like other silver coins from American history, the half dollar has gone through various designs through its history. From 1839 to 1964, the coins were available with 90% silver. Now you have the opportunity to learn all about the history of 90% silver half dollars.

    Pre-90% Silver Half Dollars

    The first US half dollar, 50-cent, coins were issued by the United States Mint in 1794. For the first two years of issue, the coins were produced with the Flowing Hair design. From 1796 to 1807, the US Mint issued the coins with the Draped Bust design that originally featured a small heraldic eagle, but later featured a larger heraldic eagle. The final design series issued prior to 90% silver coinage was the Capped Bust design in use on the half dollar from 1807 to 1839. This series also went through slight changes with a larger head design originally and a smaller design in the final three years. These coins were issued with silver mixtures that often featured 89.2% silver and 10.8% copper.

    Seated Liberty Half Dollar

    Starting in 1839, the United States Mint issued half-dollar coins with .365 Troy oz of 90% silver. The silver content of the coins was offset by 10% copper for durability in circulation. The first design to feature this metal content mixture was the Seated Liberty design. Created by Christian Gobrecht, who later served as the 3rd Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, the Seated Liberty design was used across several denominations of US currency. The design included the following elements:

    • Obverse: The obverse field of 90% Seated Liberty Half Dollars features a depiction of the Goddess of Freedom seated on a rock. A flowing dress covers her figure as she sits on the rock. Her left hand is clutching a Liberty pole that is topped by a Phrygian cap. She looks to the left of the coin field as her right hand rests on the US national shield that bears a stripe with word “Liberty” on its surface. The coins have 13 stars above the Liberty design and a date mark at the bottom.
    • Reverse: On the reverse face of the Seated Liberty Half Dollars, you will find an early depiction of the heraldic eagle of the United States. This design features a bird ready to take flight with an olive branch in one hand and the arrows of war in the other. The US national shield is on the bird’s chest. From 1839 to 1866, the coins were issued without a national motto included. From 1866 to 1891, the national motto “In God We Trust” was featured on the reverse.

    Barber Half Dollar

    The Barber Coinage Series was available from the United States Mint from 1892 to 1916. The series is so-named because the common designs used on the dime, quarter, and half dollar of this collection were created by 6th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, Charles E. Barber. He created a Liberty bust that featured on the obverse of all three denominations, and two separate reverse designs. His reverse imagery included a unique visual for the dime and shared designs for the quarter and half dollar. The 90% Silver Barber Half Dollar featured these designs:

    • Obverse: Lady Liberty is featured in a right-profile bust on the obverse of the Barber Half Dollar coin. This image of Liberty is in a Greco-Roman style and offers a masculine vision of Liberty. She wears a wreath crown with the word “Liberty” inscribed above, 13 stars encircling the portrait, and a date mark at the bottom.
    • Reverse: For the reverse side of the Barber Half Dollar, Charles E. Barber created his own vision of the heraldic eagle that is based on the Great Seal of the United States. It showcases a front-facing bald eagle with an olive branch in its right talon and its head looking toward the olive branch as a symbol of its desire for peace. The left talon clutches the arrows of a war, a symbol of the nation’s readiness to defend itself. The US national shield is on its chest and a banner in its beak reads “E Pluribus Unum.” A loose cluster of 13 stars is overhead, with “United States of America” and “Half Dollar” around the design field.

    Walking Liberty Half Dollar

    Arguably the most popular half-dollar design to feature in the 90% Silver Half Dollar Series, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar replaced the unpopular Barber Half Dollar design in 1916. Used on the coins from 1916 to 1947, the Walking Liberty design was so popular it has been revived by the mint in the modern era as the face of the American Silver Eagle. Designed by Adolph A. Weinman, the Walking Liberty coinage features these elements:

    • Obverse: On the obverse of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar is the image of Lady Liberty walking toward the sun on the horizon as it peeks over a mountaintop. Liberty has the American flag over her shoulders and carries the branches of oak and laurel in her left hand. Inscriptions include “Liberty” above the design, “In God We Trust” behind Liberty’s trailing leg as she walks, and a date mark at the bottom.
    • Reverse: The reverse field of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar has a depiction of a bald eagle rising from its perch on a mountaintop. The eagle’s wings are raised behind its figure with a small sapling clutched in its talons. The inscriptions on this face of the coin include “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “Half Dollar.”

    Franklin Half Dollar

    The Walking Liberty design was replaced by the United States Mint in 1948 with a bust of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. The design of Franklin was used for just 15 years, the shortest in the 20th century and the shortest in the series since the Draped Bust design issued from 1796 to 1807. The images on the obverse and reverse of the Franklin Half Dollar were created by John R. Sinnock and Gilroy Roberts, respectively. Sinnock was the 8th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint and Roberts the 9th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. The designs on this coin include:

    • Obverse: Benjamin Franklin is depicted in right-profile relief on the obverse side of the Franklin Half Dollar. His bust is accompanied by inscriptions of “Liberty” above and “In God We Trust” below. The date mark is featured below his chin.
    • Reverse: Bucking the trend of other 90% Silver Half Dollars, the Franklin Half Dollar prominently features the Liberty Bell in the center with a small heraldic eagle to the right and “E Pluribus Unum” to the left. The other inscriptions include “United States of America” above and “Half Dollar” below.

    Kennedy Half Dollar

    The Kennedy Half Dollar was introduced in March 1964, just four months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy while in office. The Kennedy Half Dollar was the final US silver coin design introduced in the 90% silver era and was only available for one year in 9% silver. The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was the final issue of this type of silver and featured designs of:

    • Obverse: The obverse of the coin features a design from Gilroy Roberts that captures President Kennedy in left-profile relief with “Liberty” inscribed above, “In God We Trust” on either side of the bust, and a date mark below.
    • Reverse: On the reverse side is a modified heraldic eagle of the United States. It features the American bald eagle with the US national shield, an olive branch, and arrows. This is surrounded by 50 stars and inscriptions of “United States of America” and “Half Dollar” are featured around the outer edge.

    After the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar was released, all silver coins in the United States were transitioned to a modern cupro-nickel alloy for greater durability in circulation and affordability in production. All US coins issued starting in 1965 have no actual silver content.

    Purchasing 90% Silver Half Dollars from JM Bullion

    You will find 90% Silver Half Dollars available from JM Bullion varying batches and conditions. If you have questions, please call JM Bullion at 800-276-6508. We are also available to you on the web through our live chat and email address features.