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Flowing Hair, Draped Bust and Capped Bust Half Dollars 1794 to 1839

The Half Dollar of the United States has been produced nearly every year since the inception of the United States Mint in 1794. The Flowing Hair Half Dollars were minted only in 1794 and 1795 and are very rare in any condition. To meet the demand for coinage, the Mint began producing Flowing Hair Half Dollars, and the first shipment of approximately 5,300 pieces were delivered on December 1, 1794. The Draped Bust Half Dollars were produced from 1796 to 1807 and only of the later years are affordable in lower grades.

The Capped Bust Half Dollars were minted from 1807 to 1839 and are more affordable most years in lower grades. They were designed by the mints Chief Engraver Robert Scot. The Mint produced 23,464 half dollars dated 1794 and 299,680 dated 1795. United States coin designs underwent rapid and sometimes radical change during the first few years of federal coinage.

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar      1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar reverse

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar

1805 Draped Bust Half Dollar      1805 Draped Bust Half Dollar reverse

1805 Drapped Bust Half Dollar

1809 Capped Bust Half Dollar      1809 Capped Bust Half Dollar reverse

1809 Capped Bust Half Dollar

Flowing Hair Half Dollars, Drapped Half Dollars and Capped Half Dollars

After just two years of production, 1794 and 1795, the Mint replaced the youthful Miss Liberty with a more mature and more sedate portrait, one that has come to be known as the Draped Bust Half Dollars. The reverse was similar to that of the Flowing Hair design, but slightly modified. The Draped Bust portrait of Liberty may have resulted from the intercession of President George Washington himself. Its designer, painter Gilbert Stuart, is best known today for his portrait of Washington still used on the one-dollar note. In 1807, Draped Bust halves gave way to a new version designed by Scot’s assistant, John Reich. This was the Capped Bust Half Dollar type, on which Miss Liberty turned from facing right to facing left and tucked her newly curled hair inside a cap. Draped Bust and Capped Bust half dollars both are widely collected.

The best place to purchase these Early Halves is at eBay. Most of these coins are expensive in the better grades and rare years especially the Flowing Hair and Draped Bust Half Dollars. However, if you just want one or two for your collection look for Capped Bust halves dated 1809-1836 in the grades of about good, good and very good or better. You should be able to find a nice Capped Bust Quarter specimen for your collection in the $50.00 or less range.

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