Draped Bust Half Dime

Posted by on February 25, 2012

Coin Weight (g) Composition Silver Melt Value Full Melt Value
Draped (1796,1797, 1800-1803, 1805) 2.7 89% silver, 10% copper
BS 1796drapedbusthalfdimesmalleaglerev 300x153 Draped Bust Half Dime

1796 Draped Bust Half Dime small eagle reverse

The Draped Bust Half Dime was minted from 1796 to 1805 and designed by the United States Mint Chef Engraver Robert Scot. As with the prior silver half dimes it has a reeded edge and weighs 1.35 grams, is 16.5mm in diameter and composed of 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper. There is no denomination indicated on these either.

In 1796 the obverse design for the Draped Bust Half Dime design were changed slightly, adapting a sketch of Liberty by Gilbert Stuart with Liberty having a bow around her head and a ‘Draped Bust’. The date underneath as before and “LIBERTY” aching above her along the rim. The rest of the outer area sounding the coin has thirteen to sixteen stars.


There are a number of variations with the obverse design…

1) For 1796 there was a star for every state therefore 15 stars surrounded the coin.

2) There is a variation that has an overstrike of the “6” over the “5”.

3) Then there was a miss spelling on others of the non-overstrike variety: “LIBEKTY” substituting a “K” for the “R” (this also happened with the 1800 strikes).

4)  1797 with the 15 stars.

5) In the middle of the 1797 striking a state had been added to the United States adding a star thus some of the 1797 mintage have 16 stars.  (There is a very scarce version of this with "7" of the "97" elongated and re-cuts on some palms of the reverse.)

6) It was decided that the obverse was getting too cluttered with stars and the number of stars was drop to signify the original states. 13 stars was determined to be this new standard.

The reverse was modified for the Draped Bust Half Dime when these coins started came back into production in 1800.

7) The misspelling with “LIBEKTY” occurs again on the 1800 minted half dimes (16,000).

8)  Then there are the 1800 strikes with "LIBERTY" spelled properly (24,000).

9 & 10) In 1803 there was a ‘Large’ and ‘Small’ “8” used for the 37,850 total minted coins that year.

The reverse for the Draped Bust Half Dime have two distinct designs. The first has a ‘small’ eagle with wings spread on a cloud surrounded by a wreath and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” encircling this at the rim of the coin. This reverse was used for the 1796 and 1797 strikes. On these reverse the eagle, cloud, and wreath. This is very similar to the reverse of the Flowing Hair Half Dime of 1794 and 1795, but with a much smaller eagle. 54,757 were minted total of the ‘small’ eagle in 1796 (10,230) and 1797 (44,527).

SC 1805drapedbusthalfdimes heraldic 300x150 Draped Bust Half Dime

1805 Draped Bust Half Dime heraldic eagle

The Draped Bust Half Dime was not minted in 1798 or 1799 and continued in 1800 thru 1805 with a new reverse. The obverse remaining the same, thirteen stars was decided on instead of adding for each state. The reverse was changed to a ‘Heraldic Eagle’ with the ‘National Shield’ over its chest, clutching arrows in the left talon and an olive branch in the right, with a ribbon in its beak inscribed “E PLUBERUS UNIM” motto. Thirteen stars are in the field above the eagle and arcing clouds above them. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” encircles this design around the rim of the reverse. These were struck 1800 to 1803 and again in 1805 (15,600). These strikes never exceeded 40,000 for any of these years and in 1802 only 3,060 were struck making this year the key date for the Draped Bust Half Dime.

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