Flowing Hair Half Dollar

Posted by on March 7, 2012


Coin Weight (g) Composition Silver Melt Value Full Melt Value
Flowing (1794-1795) 13.48 89% silver, 10% copper
BS 1795flowinghairdollarrev 300x152 Flowing Hair Half Dollar

1795 Flowing Hair Dollar

The Flowing Hair Half Dollar was the first half dollar minted by the United States of America in 1794 and again in 1795, at their first mint which was in Philadelphia.  A Mint has been in operation in Philadelphia ever since.  These silver coins are 32.5 millimeters in diameter, weigh 13.5 grams with 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper.  The edge was lettered, bearing “FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR” with decorations between each word.

Robert Scot designed the Flowing Hair Half Dollar.  The obverse has a Liberty head with flowing hair facing right.  The date is under head by the rim and “LIBERTY” is above encircling along the rim.  There are a total of fifteen stars, one for every state, eight on the left side encircling the rim and seven on the right.  There is a variety for 1795, a recut date with 3 leaves.


The reverse has a ‘small eagle’ standing on a rock with wings spread in the center of the silver half dollar.  A laurel wreath encircles the eagle and encircling that by the rim is “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”.  There are two varieties of this reverse with the 1795 strikes; on with two leaves over the eagle’s right wing tip then under the left’s and another with three leaves with a recut date.

The early years of the United States’ Mint were slow and painstaking.  Established in 1792 by Congress to be built in Philadelphia the Half Disme (dime) was rushed out before the Mint was completed being struck in an engravers cellar a few blocks away.  When the Mint was completed in 1793 only copper coins were struck that year.  Congress had established an excessively high bond, ($10,000) to be paid by the Mints’ officers to work with silver and gold.  In March of 1794 this was reduced and the Silver Dollar was the first to go into production, but its size and weight were too much for the press, which broke down after a short run of 1,800 were struck.

SC flowing hair half dollar 300x149 Flowing Hair Half Dollar

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar '3 Leaves'

The Flowing Hair Half Dollar was the next silver coin minted after the press was repaired.  Approximately 5,300 were struck initially in 1794 they were delivered either on October 15, 1794 or December 10, 1794.   The rest of the 1794 mintage (18,164) were delivered on February 4, 1975 for a total of 23,464.  The 1795 total was 299,680.  No proof strikes are known of for the Flowing Hair Half Dollar.

Even though half dollars are rarely used today in daily commerce, they had been a staple for about two hundred years in the United States. Since half dollars were struck almost every year they are very popular to collect as series.  In 1967 Al C. Overton’s “Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836” was published.  Overton’s in depth study of the half dollars from this period has given collectors a deeper look into one of their favorite denominations and Overton (O) as a variety indicated by a corresponding number has been adopted to distinguish the different strikes.  Overton has documented 10 distingue die marriages for 1794 and 32 for 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar.

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