Liberty Seated Coinage – Open Registry

Liberty Seated Half Dimes Basic Set, Business Strikes

Click image to access Gerry Fortin Rare Coins Inventory


The Liberty Seated Half Dime Open Registry is a public forum to share information regarding known collections, both partial and complete, of this fascinating and important series of 19th century U.S. coins. Both third-party certified and uncertified business strike Liberty Seated half dimes from the years 1838 to 1873 are fair game for inclusion in the Registry sets. Individuals may proudly claim ownership of their sets, or submit set contents anonymously, if desired.

The Liberty Seated half dimes business strikes are sometimes claimed, perhaps unfairly, to be the "easiest" set of Liberty Seated coins to complete by date and mintmark. All things are relative, as no Seated coin series is easy to complete, even in the lowest grades. It is probably fair to say only that a low-grade set of Seated half dimes can be assembled on a reasonable budget, minus the unique 1870-s. Even so, several of the coins are difficult to locate and expensive in the lowest circulated grades.

The Liberty Seated half dime series offers a few notable key dates and a large group of condition rarities. The rare and arguably underrated 1846 Philadelphia issue boasts an original mintage of just 27,000 pieces, and unlike the later P-mints, it is not widely available in Mint condition, nor can collectors easily acquire a proof. The toughest issue among the New Orleans half dimes, excluding varieties, is undoubtedly the key 1853-O without arrows at the date, the true scarcity of which is belied by its alleged mintage of 130,000. Notorious for its weak strike on the numerals of the date, the 1853-O No Arrows is a real find even in lowly G-4 condition. Among the "S" mint half dimes, several Civil War era issues are quite scarce, but the 1870-S easily claims the title of the key date for the mint and for the entire series. Other key dates are the business strikes of 1864, 1865, 1866, and 1867, and to a lesser extent, the very scarce 1838-O, 1842-O, 1844-O, 1849-O, and 1863-P. Notable condition rarities in the Seated half dime series include the 1840-O with drapery at Ms. Liberty's elbow; the 1842-O, 1844-O, 1849-O, and 1852-O; and the difficult 1863-s, 1864-s, 1865-s, 1866-s, and 1867-s. All of these dates are somewhat affordable in middle circulated grades, but become rare and high-priced in Mint condition.

It is an interesting historical curiosity that no Liberty Seated half dimes were struck at the Carson City mint, which began production of Liberty Seated dimes, quarters, 20-cent pieces, halves, and dollars in the early 1870s. While the lack of "CC" half dimes likely makes the series easier to complete, it is nonetheless a disappointment for fans of the old Nevada mint.

The Seated half dime series is rife with interesting and rare major varieties, many of which are readily identified by the unaided eye. Holding a primary place among the well-kept secrets of the series is the very rare 1839-o with reverse of 1838-o, which is immediately distinguished by its oversized "O" mintmark. Collectors cherry-picking one of these should be proud of themselves, since they are seldom even offered attributed. Another well-known scarcity you won't find listed in the Red Book is the 1840-o transitional issue, with the "open bud" reverse. These can be located in low grades with a little work, but an XF or better piece is a real find. A second 1840-o variety that merits attention is that with the large "O" mintmark, which includes a die marriage featuring the 1838-O reverse. While not as rare as the 1839-O Rev. '38, the 1840-O large "O" warrants the attention of collectors and may take some time to find. Other scarce mintmark size variants are the 1844-O with large "O" and the 1850-O with small "O", neither of which turns up with any regularity. A rather common but interesting variety one is likely to encounter is the 1844-o small "o" with a 180-degree rotated reverse. The 1849/8 and 1849/6 are popular and well-known major varieties that are listed in the Red Book. Less well-known overdates include the 1848/8/7 and 1848/7/6. The 1848 overdates generate some controversy amongst collectors, as it is difficult to say exactly what the underlying digits really are. The 1848 year also includes a very scarce variety with a massively oversized date that overlaps the base of the rock. Additional well-known varieties, though not rare, are the 1858 Philadelphia issue with the date re-engraved over upside-down numerals, and the 1861 Philadelphia issue which appears to have the "1" punched over traces of a "0." A rare 1858 variety has the date repunched over an erroneous, way-too-high date. Even in considering this substantial list, one has barely scratched the surface of the interesting die varieties available to collectors of the series.

Despite their small size, the Liberty Seated half dimes are rich in history, fun to collect, and truly fascinating for their impressive array of scarce dates, condition rarities, and die varieties.

Ronald Hedden, September 1, 2010

The Liberty Seated Half Dime With Varieties Set input form is available in Excel format. Submitted information on the With Varieties Set input form (click here for Microsoft Excel Form) will be used to establish or update your Business Strike and branch mint open registry sets. Also, you can use the input form as a method for tracking the contents of your collection. Please email your completed form to and I will do my best to quickly post your set or recent updates!


Liberty Seated Half Dimes Basic Set, Business Strikes

Excel Submission Form


% Completion

 Weighted Grade




The Stephen A. Crain Collection




August 31, 2008
The Ron Hedden Collection




July 22, 2010
The Steven R. Erickson Collection




January 5, 2014
The Jason Feldman Collection




March 15, 2010
The Bob Hamby Collection




July 6, 2010
The John Okerson Collection




October 3, 2015
The Dale Miller Collection




February 7, 2016
The Joseph A. Crespo Collection















% Completion: Number of coin entries divided by total entries requirement to complete a set; for Basic Set, Business Strikes, then 70 entries are required for a 100% completion.

Set Weighted Grade: The grade of each coin is multiplied by the "rarity factor", then summed and divided by the total of the "rarity factors" for those coin entries in the set.

Set Rating: The grade of each coin is mutiplied by the "rarity factor", then summed and divided by the total of all "rarity factors" for a completed set.

Rarity Factor: The forthcoming rarity assessment for each date or variety in EF-AU grades to be estimated by Stephen A. Crain.


Back to Open Registry Home Page