US Coins

Market Analysis: Seated Liberty half dollars showcase varieties, design variations

Completing a Seated Liberty half dollar set is a challenge. Production of the long-running series began in 1839 and continued through 1891. The series offers varieties, key dates, and design variations to keep specialists busy. 

This 1877-S Seated Liberty half dollar showcases the Open Bud, Micro S reverse variety and is listed as WB-101, Die Pair 7, in Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert’s book on the series

At least 38 die marriages have been confirmed from the mintage of 5,356,000 for the 1877-S half dollar, and this one has an unusually small San Francisco Mint mark. Sharp-eyed collectors can often buy varieties in the series for little premium since few specialty varieties are listed in A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”). 

On this Professional Coin Grading Service Mint State 66 example, Heritage writes, “Frosty mint luster shines through layers of blue, violet, and peach-orange color.” Finer examples are rarely seen as PCGS has graded just three in MS-66+ and one finer. It realized $3,003.60 at Heritage’s recent Central States Numismatic Society auction and appears to be the same coin that sold in a Legend Oct. 28, 2018, auction for $3,410. Still graded MS-66 but in a different PCGS holder, the cataloger noted, “The toning is classic old envelope iridescence.” 

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