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The Scarce Philadelphia Barber Half Dollars Of 1913 Through 1915

 
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 Posted 05/11/2021  3:09 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
PCGS - The Barber half dollar enjoys popularity among collectors of both 19th-century and 20th-century type coinage, as the series designed by Charles Barber spanned from 1892 through 1915. Over the course of nearly a quarter century several dates were produced that are scarce on an absolute basis. Among these are the 19th-century dates of 1892-O, 1892-O Micro O, 1896-S, 1897-O, and 1897-S. There is also a trio of 20th century dates that pose challenges for collectors, and each of these rarities hail from the Philadelphia Mint and released during consecutive years at the end of the series' run. These three scarce Philly halves are the 1913, 1914, and 1915 Barber half dollars.


Barber Half Dollar, 1913 50C, PCGS MS66+. Click image to enlarge.

All three of these issues were struck to the tune of fewer than 200,000 pieces each, and this trinity of Barber half dollar semi-keys also represents the three lowest mintages among the business strikes of the series. This may come as something of a surprise to some collectors who aren't necessarily acquainted with Barber half dollars and assume that the scarcest issues might boast mintmarks symbolizing production at a branch facility, such as those in Denver ("D"), New Orleans ("O"), or San Francisco ("S").

Of course, this begs the question why the mintages of Barber half dollars from the Philadelphia Mint plunged during the last three years of the series - a situation that remains essentially unexplained. However, minting duties shifted among the various United States Mint facilities from time to time, and Denver and San Francisco both churned out significantly higher numbers of halves during these same years that the Philly output was downright paltry on the 50-cent front. This very scenario goes to show how some of the toughest coins are often disregarded by collectors who may not necessarily associate rare 20th-century coins with origins from the Philadelphia Mint.

Yet, the 1913, 1914, and 1915 Barber half dollars are scarce across the grading spectrum, and examples are expensive even in the well-worn grade of G4. Only 188,000 Barber halves were made at the Philadelphia Mint in 1913, just 124,230 were produced in 1914 to become the lowest business-strike mintage of the series, and the series closed out in 1915 with a mere 138,000 strikes from the City of Brotherly Love. Delving ever-further into the numbers reveals PCGS estimates of only around 2,000 survivors for each of these dates, and that includes the circulated specimens.

The low survival figures speak to a number of factors, not the least of which is that few collectors thought to save these coins from the get-go. This may owe to the fact that not many numismatists were saving contemporary Philadelphia business-strike coinage in the mid-1910s, and those who did save coins from the Philadelphia Mint were often satisfied with the purchase of proofs, which were made there at that time. Many survivors that did last into the latter decades of the 20th century were likely melted when silver prices spiked in the late 1970s and early 1980s and numismatic premiums were much smaller on these particular Philly Barber half dollars. Furthermore, Barber half dollars were true workhorse coins during their time of production and saw extensive circulation. This is one major reason all dates in the series are conditionally scarce in grades of F12 or better and become relative rare in XF40 or higher, regardless of date.

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 Posted 05/11/2021  3:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good read, thanks!
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 Posted 05/11/2021  3:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That is very interesting, something I never realized before.
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 Posted 05/11/2021  8:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Raised on rock to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the article. A good education on the Barber halves.
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 Posted 05/11/2021  8:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add NumisEd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
No wonder I mostly see 1915-D for sale and not the strike from Philadelphia.
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 Posted 05/11/2021  8:47 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add T-BOP to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hmm , I have a 1913 Barber Half that I bought 34 years ago in VG-F condition . Paid about $20 for it .
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 Posted 05/12/2021  02:06 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add muddler to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This was sent to me by mistake from eBay seller



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 Posted 05/12/2021  07:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add T-BOP to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Please show us The TPG and what they gave it .
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 Posted 05/19/2021  05:00 am  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
There was a time back in the mid 1980's that I had a big idea of trying to buy a bunch of these 3 low mintage dates. I was looking for coins in the VG to EF grade range, I think after a couple of years of having them on my buy list and actively looking for them at shows I went and the B&M stores I stopped in, I only had a few maybe 5 or 6 of them, I sold them off not too much longer. My original goal was to just buy a bunch cheap and put them away for a couple of decades. Yeah I had good intentions, I just couldn't find the coins.
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