Type 2, Heraldic Eagle

Obverse of 1800 Half Dime
Reverse of 1800 Half Dime

Q. David Bowers (edited and updated by Mike Sherman): The half dimes of the 1800-1805 years continued the Draped Bust obverse used earlier in 1796-1797, except the stars beginning in 1800 have been standardized to seven left and six right. The reverse is of the Heraldic Eagle style adopted from the Great Seal of the United States and used beginning in the preceding decade on certain other silver denominations. At the center is an eagle with a shield on its breast, holding in its beak a ribbon inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM and grasping in its talon a bundle of arrows and an olive branch. Above the eagle is an arc of clouds under which is a group of stars. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds. No mark of denomination or value appears on the coin.

Half dimes of this era are scarce, with 1802 being a prime rarity. Most surviving examples of various 1800-1805 dates are seen in lower ranges of condition, from About Good to Very Good or so. Fine specimens are not easy to locate, Very Fine pieces are still more elusive, and Extremely Fine coins are rare. Strictly Uncirculated pieces are extremely rare. Those that do come on the market are apt to be dated 1800. Uncirculated specimens dated 1801, 1802, 1803 and 1805 are exceedingly rare or non-existent. (No pieces were coined in 1804.)

Nearly all known specimens exhibit a degree of light striking in one area or another, particularly on the high points of Liberty’s hair, among the obverse stars, and on the reverse among the stars above the eagle. Such striking characteristics are to be expected, and a numismatist seeking a perfectly struck, extremely sharp example in a high grade is apt to never encounter such a coin.

-- Reprinted with permission from "United States Coins by Design Types - An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor" by Q. David Bowers