Flowing Hair Half Dime

Posted by on February 24, 2012

Coin Weight (g) Composition Silver Melt Value Full Melt Value
Flowing (1794, 1795) 1.35 89% silver, 10% copper
1794 Flowing Hair Half Dime

1794 Flowing Hair Half Dime

Philadelphia Mint was completed in 1793.  Robert Scot’s the Chief Engraver design the Flowing Hair Half Dime was used to replace the Half Disme design.  These silver coins were also with a reeded edge, weighing 1.35 grams, 16.5mm in diameter and composed of 89.24% silver and 10.76%.  Even though these first strikes have the date 1794 on them they were actually 7,765 of these struck in March of 1795.  Then later in 1795 the next minting was run and 78,660 of the 1795 were struck finishing the series with a total of 86,416 being produced.

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On the Obverse Liberty head has ‘flowing hair’ and is facing right with “LIBERTY” encircling the top and fifteen stars (two states had joined the original thirteen) split on the left and right, with the date on the bottom.

The reverse has a ‘small’ eagle with wings spread on a cloud surrounded by a wreath and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” encircling all of this.  There is no denomination indicated on these nor mint mark.  The Philadelphia Mint will not have a mint mark on any of their coins until two centuries later, however the denominations will appear on these coins a few decades later.

Most of the Flowing Hair Half Dime strikes were ‘weak’ thus showing less detail in Liberty’s hair and the eagle’s feathers.  Also the strikes are often ‘flat’ causing the eagles chest and Liberty’s face to appear to be worn.  There are also those coins with ‘adjustment marks’.

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime (obverse)

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime (obverse)

Adjustment marks are caused by the correcting of a planchet’s weight prior to it’s being struck as currency.  If the planchet is over the proper weight a file was used to across the surface of these coins to reduce weight to the mints criteria.  Usually the striking over comes the grooving effect however there are times when these adjustment marks are still apparent.  A few years later these adjustments will be done on the edges of the planchet.  The adjustment marks may affect the grading of the coin.  Die cracks and die breaks can also affect the grade.

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime (reverse)

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime (reverse)

The Flowing Hair Half Dime is not considered ‘rare’, there are many available although heavily circulated most of these silver coins are ‘About Good’ or ‘Good’ grade.  During the 1880 a hoard of around 100 Flowing Hair Half Dime silver coins surfaced, mostly from 1795 but a few 1794.  Therefore there are a number of ‘Almost Uncirculated’ and ‘Mint State’ coins available.  There were no ‘Specimen’ (proof) strikes of these and only a few coins are considered by some as “Presentation Pieces”.

The Flowing Hair Half Dime does have minor variations with both years.  1794 had four different die sets, and 1795 had 10.  Almost all 1794 are from one type and 80% of the 1795 come from three of the die sets.  Because of the rarity of high grade coins from this series these variations are seldom pursued.

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