Barber half dollars are rare coins many collectors seek to own
For those who are fond of collecting rare coins, whether for hobbyist reasons or because they see such collections as an investment, the Barber series of coins minted in the United States between 1892 and 1916 offer a lot of value. For those that buy coins, the price is often a factor. The good news is that as of 2012, these coins are not exceptionally expensive depending upon their grade. Proof coins will cost more since they tend to be more visually appealing and usually kept in pristine condition, but these are obtainable coins for the average collector. Barber half dollars, in particular, are interesting to collectors because they are both accessible and part of building a larger Barber coin collection if they wish to.
Among fans of rare coins, few know that AU grade, which stands for Almost Uncirculated, 1904 Barber half dollars are valued as condition rarities. While there were a number of other Barber coins minted that are more or less well known to those who buy coins, what many do not realize is that Barber halves in attractive conditions have sold for several hundred dollars at auction. Proof coins collected during the 1800's, remain in exceptionally good condition and while less commonly seen, these are both attractive and quite valuable.
The history of Barber coins is fascinating in and of itself. Prior to their minting, the Seated Liberty design had been in place for the past six decades but the U.S. wanted new designs. In 1891, the Mint Director put out a call for designs to artists and the general public, but because only the winner would receive prize money, no artists wanted to take part in the contest. The public also failed to produce anything meeting the Director's standards, so Charles E. Barber, the Chief Engraver for the US Bureau of the Mint was asked to come up with a design instead.
Barber's design features a head of Liberty, wearing laurels upon her head and facing to the right. In addition, a band on the head reads Liberty and the words In God We Trust are across the top of the coin with the date across the bottom. To the left are six stars and to the right, seven, representing the 13 original colonies. The back of the Barber half has an eagle and shield design with the eagle clutching an olive branch in its left talons and a cluster of arrows in its right talons. Thirteen stars are above the eagle and the words the United States of America are across the top with half dollar being across the bottom. In the eagle's mouth is a banner that reads, in Latin: E Pluribus Unum.
While the Barber half dollar is often overlooked among the Barber coins, it remains a fascinating coin to collect. Many will try to get all of its mint years as well as one coin from each mint. The mints that produced the Barber half dollar are Philadelphia which did not use a mintmark before 1942, Denver which is represented with a D, New Orleans which was represented with an O and San Francisco which is represented with an S. This is a coin investor and collectors alike can both appreciate.