In 1861, Philadelphia Mint employees struck over nearly three million Half Dollars, a large number for this early Civil War date and the beginning of a steady decline in mintages in subsequent years. The 1861 Half Dollar is plentiful in most grades, including Mint State, where collectors have lots of choices in the MS61 to MS66 grade range. Even at the very highest levels of MS66+ there are several examples that are surprisingly good values for a "Finest Known" coin.
The strike quality on 1861 Half Dollars is generally strong. Luster ranges from brilliant to frosty and creamy. Bagmarks are usually limited and small. Many examples show above-average eye appeal for their respective grade.