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90% Silver Half Dollars & Junk Silver

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90% Silver Half Dollars

The Half Dollar, today, is the largest US circulation coin by size and weight. The Half Dollar was first introduced in 1794 and has featured countless designs over the years. However, in 1839, these coins made the transition to containing 90% silver. Learn more about all the different types of 90% Silver Half Dollars, right here at BGASC.

Background of the Silver Half Dollar

The very first US Silver Half Dollar was struck in 1794 and was issued for two years featuring a flowing hair design. This was quickly replaced by the Draped Bust design and was used from 1796 to 1807. Finally, the Capped Bust design was used from 1807 to 1839. These three designs contained a silver-copper mixture made up of 89.2% silver and 10.8% copper. The introduction of the Seated Liberty design upped the silver content in this Half Dollars, and all US silver coinage, to 90%.

Seated Liberty Half Dollar

In 1839, the US Mint started issuing 90% Silver Half Dollars with the introduction of the Seated Liberty design. Designed by Christian Gobrecht, third Chief Engraver of the US Mint, this design was seen on the dime, quarter, half dollar, and silver dollar.

  • Obverse: Similar to the 90% Dime and 90% Quarter, the Seated Liberty design features Lady Liberty sitting on a rock with a staff in one hand and a shield in the other. A Phrygian cap is atop the staff while the shield bears the inscription “Liberty.”
  • Reverse: The reverse displays a heraldic eagle. The eagle is clutching a bundle of arrows and an olive branch in its talons while a shield is displayed on the eagle’s chest. Coins with the issue date between 1866 and 1891 display the “In God We Trust” motto on the reverse.

Barber Coinage Half Dollar

Used from 1892 to 1916, the Barber Coinage is named after Charles E. Barber, the 6th Chief Engraver of the US Mint. Notably, the obverse design can be seen on the dime, quarter, and half dollar. The reverse design is the same on the half dollar and quarter but is unique for the dime.

  • Obverse: Greco-Roman style portrait of Lady Liberty in right-profile relief. This depiction is a more masculine take on Lady Liberty. She’s donning a wreath crown that bears the inscription “Liberty.” 13 stars encircle Liberty while the year of issue is seen at the bottom.
  • Reverse: A heraldic eagle is shown on the reverse of the Barber Coinage Half Dollars. The eagle is clutching an olive branch in its right talon and a bundle of arrows in its left talon. Inscriptions read “E Pluribus Unum,” United States of America,” and “Half Dollar.”

Walking Liberty Half Dollar

One of the most popular designs ever created by the US Mint is the Walking Liberty design of Adolph A. Weinman. Currently used on the American Silver Eagle, this design was used on the Half Dollar from 1916 to 1947.

  • Obverse: Liberty is seen striding in left-profile relief into the sun. She’s draped in the American flag whilst holding oak branches in one hand. The year of issue is seen at the bottom as other inscriptions such as “Liberty,” and “In God We Trust,” are also seen.
  • Reverse: The reverse side showcases a bald eagle rising from a mountaintop perch. The eagle is seen clutching a small sapling in its talons while its wings are raised behind its figure. Inscriptions include “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “Half Dollar.”

Franklin Half Dollar

The Franklin Half Dollar was used just from 1948 to 1963, at just 15 years it’s the shortest-tenured design since the Draped Bust from 1796 to 1807. The obverse and reverse designs were created by John R. Sinnock and Gilroy Roberts, respectively. Sinnock was the 8th Chief Engraver of the US Mint and was succeeded by Roberts.

  • Obverse: Benjamin Franklin appears in right-profile relief. He’s seen along with the inscriptions “In God We Trust,” “Liberty,” and the year of issue.
  • Reverse: Unlike other 90% Silver Half Dollars that display a heraldic eagle, this Franklin Half Dollar showcases the Liberty Bell on the reverse. However, a small heraldic eagle is seen to the right. Inscriptions read “Half Dollar,” “United States of America,” and “E Pluribus Unum.”

Kennedy Half Dollar

While the Kennedy Half Dollar is still used today, its first year of release, 1964, is the only such circulation coin that contains 90% silver. Gilroy Roberts designed the obverse while Frank Gasparro designed the reverse.

  • Obverse: A left-profile relief portrait of John F. Kennedy. Inscriptions read LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, and the year of issue at the bottom.
  • Reverse: A modified presidential seal of the heraldic eagle is displayed on the reverse. The front-facing eagle has a shield on its chest and is holding an olive branch and a bundle of arrows in its talons. Identifying marks of the coin surround this image.

Purchasing 90% Silver Half Dollars

For any questions regarding 90% Silver Half Dollars or others, contact the BGASC customer service team today. We can be reached via email, through our online chat feature, or by calling us at 888-992-4272.