1807-1824 Capped Bust Half Dollars Lettered Edge


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Two half dollar series are called “Bust Halves”, the earlier Draped Bust type that ended in 1807 and the Capped Bust type that started in 1807 and ended in 1839.

Capped Bust halves produced through 1836 have a lettered edge, but in 1836 the edge was changed to the familiar reeded style.
Though there were subtle design changes after 1809, and others throughout the life of the series, it is the 1836 edge change that is used by many numismatists to separate the styles into two distinct types. Half dollars in the early 1800s were the workhorse of circulating silver coinage;

No silver dollars were minted from 1804 through 1835, and not in quantity until 1840 (excluding the specimen 1804 issues). Produced using man- or animal-powered screw presses, with hand-punched elements on the dies, Capped Bust halves have many varieties, which has generated extensive collector interest.

The design was by German-born engraver John Reich, who had come to the United States as an indentured servant to escape the Napoleonic Wars.

Mint Director Robert Patterson saw in Reich the person who could create designs that would in his opinion improve the beauty of this country’s coins. Some maintained that Reich based the Liberty portrait on his mistress, though nothing confirming that rumor has ever been found. In only three years of the Capped Bust series did production drop below one million coins. No halves were produced in 1816 because a major fire at the Mint forced the suspension of all silver coinage, and no proofs are known until 1820, though rumors persist of samples produced as early as 1817.


Designer: John Reich
Circulation Mintage:high 6,545,000 (1836), low 47,150 (1815; all are the 1815/2 overdate)
Proof Mintage: high 15 (1836, estimated), low 5 (1820-1824, estimated; none confirmed prior to 1820)
Diameter: ±32.5 mm, lettered edge
Weight: ±13.48 grams
Varieties:Extensively studied, and collected by Overton Numbers. Over 789 different dies have been identified.


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    1807-1824 Capped Bust Half Dollars Lettered Edge
    1807-1824 Capped Bust Half Dollars Lettered Edge
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