Composition and Specifications

Half dimes of this era were struck from a composition of silver (89.24%) and copper (10.76%) and had a weight of 1.35 grams (20.85 grains). The diameter of the planchets was 16.5 millimeters, representing the smallest sized coins struck by the United States at the time. The diameter of the denomination was reduced to an even smaller size for subsequent series of half dimes. All pieces have a reeded edge, to prevent clipping, a common occurrence in earlier times to obtain the silver from the coins.

Production quality for the Draped Bust Half Dime varies widely from issue to issue and coin to coin. Generally speaking, these early half dimes will show some striking weakness in one or more parts of the design. The obverse stars and Liberty’s hair are notoriously known for being weakly struck, along with the central part of the reverse. Adjustment marks, made by the Mint to alter the weight of the planchets before striking are also common, but these usually do not detract from the value.

Problem-free examples with original surfaces and a relatively sharp strike are true rarities, trading for a substantial premium when available.