Composition and Specifications

As mandated by law and as with all other silver coins of the 1790’s, the Draped Bust Half Dollar was struck with a composition of 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper. The coins had a standard diameter of 32.5 millimeters and weight of approximately 13.48 grams (208 grains).

Due to the primitive circumstances at the early Mint both weight and diameter of each individual coin can vary slightly. The production quality can vary from issue to issue as well, and more specifically, from variety to variety. With some intensive searching, sharply struck pieces can be found, although most will exhibit at least some striking weakness at the centers. This is the case for both the small eagle as well as the heraldic eagle reverses.

Adjustment marks made by the Mint prior to striking remain common on this type, although quality of the planchets and dies gradually improved over time. The adjustment marks are often distracting, but generally do not detract from the value of these historic and rare coins.

The denomination was indicated on the edge lettering of the coin, which reads FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR with decorations between the words. The small eagle reverse type also included the fraction “1/2” beneath the wreath on the reverse.