Flowing Hair Half Dollar

Obverse of 1795 Half Dollar
Reverse of 1795 Half Dollar

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Q. David Bowers (edited and updated by Mike Sherman): Half dollars of 1794-1795 bear the same design as contemporary half dimes and silver dollars. The obverse features a small head of Miss Liberty facing right, with flowing hair behind, LIBERTY above, and the date below. Eight stars are to the left and seven to the right. The reverse illustrates an open wreath enclosing a “small” eagle, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounding. The borders of this and other half dollars (until 1916) have denticles. The edge features the lettering “FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR."

Pieces dated 1795 are by far the most often encountered of this type being some ten times more plentiful than the 1794s. Examples of both years are apt to be seen in lower grades, from About Good to Fine. Very Fine and Extremely Fine coins are scarce, while AU coins are rare. Uncirculated pieces are seldom met with. Areas of light striking characterize most pieces as do parallel mint-caused adjustment marks made during the planchet preparation process.

As is true of other early issues, these were “workhorse” coins intended for use in the channels of commerce. Few, if any pieces were set aside for collectors at the time of issue. Numerous die varieties exist among early half dollars and are described in a book on the subject by Al C. Overton.

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