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HomeUS Coins1853-O Liberty Seated Half Dime : A Collector's Guide

1853-O Liberty Seated Half Dime : A Collector’s Guide

The New Orleans Mint struck Liberty Seated half dimes in two configurations in the year 1853. In March of that year, the Mint struck 160,000 dimes at the standard weight of 1.34 grams. After the passage of the Coinage Act of 1853, New Orleans was ordered to reduce the weight of its silver subsidiary coinage and so they notified the general public of this change in tenor by adding arrows on each side of the date on the obverse, and, on the quarter dollar and half dollar coins, adding rays around the eagle on the reverse.

1853-O Liberty Seated Half Dime (No Arrows)

The Eliasberg specimen 1853-O No Arrows Liberty Seated Half Dime. Image: Stack's Bowers.
The Eliasberg specimen 1853-O No Arrows Liberty Seated Half Dime. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Valentine-1: Only known die marriage of the 1853-O No Arrows half dime type. 160,000 struck (6.7% of total mintage of all 1853-O half dimes). However, the surviving population is significantly lower as most of this issue was melted down following the change in tenor. Mint State examples are rare. Typical for the issue are weakly struck coins with weak dates on the obverse, and flat weak wreaths (primarily on the left side) and flat bows on the reverse.

1853-O No Arrows Dime
1853-O No Arrows Dime “Top Four of the Month” ad by B & B Coin Co. From the February 1974 Numismatist.

Bill Grayson and Bob Schweitzer of BB Coin in Fairmont, Indiana offered the DuPont/Hawn example for $3,750.00 USD in a February 1974 Numismatist ad, claiming that the coin had a 90% sharp strike.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

The 1853-O Liberty Seated No Arrows half dime is a rare coin in Mint State and a scarce coin overall. Due to its small size, the half dime is not as popular a denomination to collect as is the cent or the dime. This makes it a surprisingly affordable area to collect, even when it comes to the tougher dates. Condition-census examples of the 1853-O Liberty Seated half dime (No Arrows) sell for $15,000 and up in today’s market, but high-grade circulated examples (of which few are known) sell for only $3,000 to $5,000! These seem like bargain levels.

Top Population: PCGS MS-65+ (1, 3/2024). NGC MS-64 (2, 3/2024). CAC MS-65 (2:0 stickered:graded, 2/2024)

  • PCGS MS-65+ CAC #04478824: “Eliasberg Collection”, Bowers and Merena, May 1996, Lot 988 – ; As PCGS MS-65 CAC #04478824. “1853 Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, November 2014, Lot 10011 – $25,800; As PCGS MS-65+ CAC #04478824. Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2015, Lot 4972 – $28,200; Heritage Auctions, February 16, 2017, Lot 3688 – $37,600. Upgraded to MS65+ but retained prior certification number. Eliasberg on insert.; “The Bender Family Collection, Part IV”, Heritage Auctions, May 2023, Lot 3061 – $60,000. Reholdered. Eliasberg-Bender on insert. Slight weakness on the radials. Scratch between stars 2 and 3 and another to the right of star 2. Copper, blue, and green toning on the obverse. Reverse presents much better with gold and aqua toning and minimal marks. Weakly struck bow and left side of the wreath.
  • PCGS MS-65 CAC #40033248: Jason Carter to Eugene Gardner in Private Treaty Sale, February 2003; “Gardner Collection, Part II”, Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98194 – $32,900. Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2016, Lot 5302 – $24,675; Corrosion at the top loop of 8. Thin scratches above L on reverse. Numismatic writer Greg Reynolds considered this example to be slightly better than the Eliasberg coin.
  • PCGS MS-64+ #06666589: Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2018, Lot 4227 – $26,400. Simpson on insert. Purple, gold, and orange target toning. Copper spot on knee.
  • PCGS MS-64 #06913390: As PCGS MS-63 #2476578. Heritage Auctions, July 31, 2008, Lot 1596 – $29,900; As PCGS MS-64 #06913390. Heritage Auctions, February 5, 2009, Lot 852 – $23,000. Upgraded one point. New certification number.
  • PCGS MS-63 CAC #14593726: As PCGS MS-63 #2476577. “The Twin Leaf Collection”, Heritage Auctions, April 30, 2009, Lot 2198 – $16,100. Old Green Holder. As PCGS MS-63 CAC #14593726. Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2010, Lot 2470 – $14,950; Regraded with new certification number. CAC sticker added. Rust colored toning on both sides. Dark streak over Liberty’s knee and the shield. Old Green Holder.
  • NGC MS-61 #1787510-005: Heritage Auctions, January 29, 2004, Lot 5563 – $7,762.50. Thin dark streak between N and I of UNITED. Two small hits to the left of O. Bow lightly struck.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1853
Denomination: Half Dime (Five Cents USD)
Mint Mark: O (New Orleans)
Mintage: 160,000
Alloy: .900 silver, .100 copper
Weight: 1.34 g
Diameter: 15.50 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Quality: Business Strike

 


 

1853-O Liberty Seated Half Dime (With Arrows)

Where the 1853-O Liberty Seated half dime (No Arrows) is a rarity in the series, the 1853-O Liberty Seated With Arrows half dime is a popular type coin for the 1853-1855 Arrows design.

2.2 million coins of this new lighter composition were struck at the New Orleans Mint, making this the highest mintage of the denomination produced at that southern branch mint. To denote the weight, the Mint added two arrows that bookend the date and point away from it. The arrows are positioned slightly high on the date, touching the bottom of the drape.

1853-O Liberty Seated Half Dime (Arrows). Image: Stack's Bowers.
1853-O Liberty Seated Half Dime (Arrows). Image: Stack’s Bowers.

As a first-year issue of the type, the 1853-O brings a slight premium over the similarly common 1854-O Liberty Seated half dime. The tail-ender issue, the 1855-O, has the lowest mintage of the three With Arrows dates, but it is not significantly more valuable than the 1853-O.

With 18 obverse dies shipped from Philadelphia to New Orleans after the passage of the Coinage Act of 1853, more than 20 varieties are reported for the 1853-O Liberty Seated With Arrows half dime. These range in reported rarity from R-4 to R-7. The Liberty Seated Collectors Club (LSCC) provides several great references for those wishing to study the series by die variety.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

PCGS and NGC report a combined population of 330 pieces as of the time of this writing (May 2023). Of course, this total represents a running tally of grading events and does not count discrete examples of the coin. The certified population of coins currently in slabs is presumably lower.

Top Population: PCGS MS-67 (2, 3/2024). NGC MS-67+ (1, 3/2024). CAC MS-67 (2:0 stickered:graded, 3/2024).

  • PCGS MS67 CAC #25345704: As PCGS MS-65 CAC. Stack’s Bowers, November 16, 2012, Lot 1280 – $7,050. As PCGS MS-67 CAC #25345704. Heritage Auctions, April 24, 2014, Lot 5552 – $27,025. Coin regraded, upgraded two points, CAC-approved. Orange-red toning all over on both sides with hints of blue in scattered areas on the obverse and concentrated along the protected areas around the rim on the reverse. Gouge at the bottom of the 3.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #50148201: Heritage Auctions, November 4, 2004, Lot 6143 – $29,900. When sold, top pop, pop one coin. “The Eugene Gardner Collection, Part II”, Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98196 – $16,450. Now CAC-approved. Heritage Auction, October 29, 2015, Lot 3126 – $15,275. Valentine-2. Gold and red toning with blue in the protected areas of the obverse. Splotchy gold, green, red, and blue toning on the reverse. Struck with clashed dies.
  • PCGS MS66 CAC #40046730: Joe O’Conner to Eugene Gardner in Private Treaty Sale, February 2004; “The Eugene Gardner Collection, Part IV”, Heritage Auctions, October 28, 2015, Lot 98149 – $5,405. Heritage Auctions, July 7, 2016, Lot 3796 – $4,465; Heritage Auctions, September 20, 2016, Lot 25824 – $4,700. Valentine-3. Mottled gold, green, and blue obverse toning. Pale toning on reverse with dark blue around ERICA.
  • PCGS MS-66 CAC #07425413: South Miami Rare Coins, sold to 1853 Collection, December 1990; Stack’s Bowers, November 2014, Lot 10014 – $7,636,50. Valentine-12 (unattributed by auctioneer). Sharply struck, struck with clashed dies, gold and rose colored toning on both sides.
  • NGC MS-66 #1784412-012: “The Minot Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, May 21, 2008, Lot 1244 – Passed; Heritage Auctions, June 3, 2010, Lot 509 – $5,462.50. Swirling rainbow toning on obverse and reverse.
  • NGC MS65: As “Gem Brilliant Uncirculated”. Stack’s Bowers, March 7, 2006, Lot 4084 – $3,450; Stack’s Bowers, August 11, 2006, Lot 272 – $3,220. Graded by MS65 by NGC. Obverse and reverse toning in red, gold and green. Untoned spot between stars 5 and 6.
  • NGC MS-65 #1848008-003: Heritage Auctions, June 1, 2006, Lot 975 – $2,416.15. Mottled gold and blue toning.
  • PCGS MS65: Stack’s Bowers, January 5, 2004, Lot 1355 – $3,335. Struck with clashed dies. Toned on both sides, Olive drab toning surrounds O mint mark.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1853
Denomination: Half Dime (Five Cents USD)
Mint Mark: O (New Orleans)
Mintage: 2,200,000
Alloy: .900 silver, .100 copper
Weight: 1.24 g
Diameter: 15.90 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Quality: Business Strike

 

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Additional CoinWeek Coverage

Eight Gem Unc. 1853 Half Dimes Auctioned in a Week

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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