I am putting the finishing touches on A Guide Book of Barber
Silver Coins — silver dimes, quarter dollars, and half dollars —
Minted from 1892 to 1915 or 1916, these coins were in strong demand
almost continually. This demand was for use in commerce.
Read first column on Barber coins: Recalling
the 1892 to 1916 silver coins designed by Mint Engraver Charles Barber
Few collectors saved them, except for yearly Proof coins, and the
mintages for the Proofs were just in the hundreds. Such circulating
issues as the 1896-O and 1904-S half dollars, mintages 924,000 and
553,038, are super rarities today in Mint State 65 and higher grades.
Years may pass between auction offerings.
The design of the Barber coins was such that the relief details of
the obverse in particular wore away quickly. To qualify as Fine 12 a
coin needs to have all of the letters in the word LIBERTY readable. It
seems that within just a few years in circulation, some of the letters
Collecting such coins did not become popular until the 1930s when
Raymond “National” and Whitman albums and folders became very popular.
Amazingly, by 1935, Barber coins minted just 20 years earlier, in
1915, were mostly worn down to the Good 4 level and nearly all minted
in the 1890s were About Good 3!
Today, if someone wanted to build a registry set of Barber halves in
the MS-65 grade, it would take at least 10 years to do so, and even
then some might be missing!
The wide circulation has resulted in nearly all Barber coins being
rare in grades from Fine to About Uncirculated, in relation to the
demand for them. Today, all Barber coins are readily collectible in
Good 4 grade.
The situation is quite different from Seated Liberty coins, which
preceded the Barber series, or the Winged Liberty Head dimes, Standing
Liberty quarter dollars, and Walking Liberty half dollars, which came
The key issue among Barber dimes is the 1895-O coin. The big three
quarter dollars are the 1896-S, 1901-S, and 1913-S coins, with the
1901-S coin taking the lead. For half dollars in worn grades, none are
really expensive, not even the 1896-O and 1904-S coins, but some are
scarcer than others.
Annual membership dues in the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society are $15. If you
are interested in joining, email David Earp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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