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Collecting Barber Halves can be a Rewarding Challenge


The Barber Half Dollar, once know as the “Liberty Head Half”, was minted from 1892 to 1915 and consists of 73 regular issues, plus one major variety, the 1892 micro O. Barber halves enjoy a solid collector audience, but mostly in lower grades (AG-VF). Except for a handful, most years and mints can be collected for under $20 in G condition and are readily available. Most Barber Halves are in lower grades due to being heavily circulated. Back in the day of Barber coinage, the Barber coins were the main coins in use for the general population. A dime, quarter or half dollar could buy quite a bit of supplies and people just could not afford to save them. With a low relief, the coin wore well. Even many of the more rare dates are heavily worn. In higher grades, the cost to assemble an entire collection is simply to cost prohibitive for most collectors. Most BU coins in MS-63 or better run well over $1,000 per coin.

Key/Semi Key Dates

There are no real keys in the Barber series. There are numerous semi-keys though. There are 21 dates/mints that had production totals fewer than one million and 3 dates had mintages under 200,000, the 1913 P, 1914 P and 1915 P. Even though those totals are extremely low, compared to the 1909 S VDB that had a mintage of 484,000 and will cost you over $700 in G4, the 3 “keys” in the Barber series can be had for around $100 or less. Simply put, there are more Lincoln Cent collectors driving up the price of Lincoln Keys than there are Barber Half collectors. Also a little more expensive to obtain will be the 1892-O, 1892-S, 1893-S, 1897-O and 1897-S. Each one of these will set you back at least $200 or more, but with a little looking around, they are readily available.


There are real significant errors within the Barber series. There is one well known variety, the 1892 micro-O. The regular 1892-O only had a mintage of 390,000, making the variety very scarce. The small mint mark apparently came from a quarter punch. In other words, the New Orleans mint used a tool to produce the “O” that was for the smaller quarter. Apparently this was noticed rather quickly and fixed as there are only a handful of micro-O’s known to exist.


The Barber series has a proof coin for each regular year of production, although only a few thousand or less were produced for each year. In MS-65 condition, each coin will cost $3000 or more to obtain.

Key Coin Info

Designed by: Charles E. Barber
Issue dates: 1892-1915
Composition: 0.900 part silver, 0.100 part copper
Diameter: 30.6 mm. Weight: 192.9 grains
Edge: Reeded
Business strike mintage: 135,916,889
Proof mintage: 17,313

Conclusion If you are looking to expand your collecting tastes, the Barber Half Dollar series would make an excellent choice. Although coins of this era had low mintages compared to todays mintages, there are readily available and completing an entire collection in a lower grade can still give the serious collector a fun challenge and still not be to hard on the wallet. With some hard work, a complete collection, except for varieties, can be had for under $3000. Even less if you are willing to accept lower grades and/or are diligent in searching for the best deals. Despite their low mintage, believe this series remains under valued.
As always, happy collecting!

Keith Scott has been a collector for over 30 years. His website has US coins for sale. He also writes Coin Collecting Articles for fun. Visit his websites for a history of US coins, metal market updates and news about your favorite coins. 1916.

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