A survey of 19th century business strike coin
50C SEATED LIBERTY, WITH ARROWS & RAYS (1853)
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||HALF DOLLARS - SEATED LIBERTY
||50C 1853 ARROWS & RAYS
||NGC MS 64
This coin features blazing white luster. Many examples of this type have a "washed out" dull look, but this piece is an attractive exception.
The mint added arrows and rays to the Liberty Seated design early in 1853 to indicate a reduction in weight. After gold was discovered in California, the resulting increase in the supply of the yellow metal resulted in a relative increase in the value of silver. As a result the melt value of virtually all of the silver coins that the U.S. mint was issuing at the time (the tiny silver three cent piece was only exception) had a melt value that was higher than their face value. The arrows and rays in effect told would-be smelters, “Don’t both to melt me for my metal content. It won’t be worth your while.”
This is a fairly common coin in the circulated grades. The mintage was quite high, and there are many well-used survivors. Conversely, few pieces were preserved in Mint State, and truly attractive pieces such as this piece command considerable collector interest and strong prices.