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Obverse of 1878 Half Dollar     Reverse of 1878 Half Dollar


1878 HALF DOLLAR

PCGS Nos: 6358, 6439, 86439

Mintage:

Circulation strikes: 1,377,600
Proofs: 800

Designer: Obverse by Thomas Sully, modified by Christian Gobrecht and Robert Ball Hughes, executed by James Barton Longacre; Reverse by Christian Gobrecht, modified by William Barber

Diameter: 30 millimeters

Metal content:
Silver - 90%
Copper - 10%

Weight: 193 grains (12.5 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia) below the eagle on the reverse

Image courtesy of Superior Galleries

Varieties:
Type 1 - Open Bud and poorly defined leaves above H in HALF; die scratch in the right side of the shield
Type 2 - Closed Bud and well-defined, outlined leaves above H in HALF 

Notes:
In January 2003, Frank M. Zapushek discovered the first Proof 1878 Half Dollar with a Type 1 reverse (he nick-named the variety "Bonnie Bud" after his wife).  The second reported Proof example was purchased unattributed by Tom Delorey at the March 2003 American Numismatic Association Convention in Charlotte, NC.  More are expected as collectors examine their coins.  Time will reveal the relative rarity between the Type 1 and Type 2 reverses.

The finest Uncirculated 1878 Half Dollars graded by PCGS are 2 MS-66's.

The finest Proof 1878 Half Dollars graded by PCGS are 2 PR-66's and 2 PR-66 Cameos.

Recent appearances:
NGC Proof-64 (illustrated above).  Ex - Superior Galleries' "The ANA 2001 National Money Show Auction", March 8-9, 2001, Lot 293, plated, sold for $1,610.00

Very Choice Brilliant Proof.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 1020, plated, sold for $1,265.00

PCGS Proof-63.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1765, sold for $575.00

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, April 2004" by The Professional Coin Grading Service

"The Thrill of Variety" by Frank M. Zapushek, NUMISMATIST, May 2003, pages 48-49

"Second Known Proof 1878 Seated Half Specimen Surfaces At ANA Show" by Eric von Klinger, COIN WORLD, April 21, 2003