Frederick R. writes: I have a 1853-0 liberty seated half dollar with no arrows on the obverse and no rays on the reverse, that I am finding pretty hard to get the facts. Some tell me its worthless because its worn to much to be a MS60 anything. Others say that this particular coin is extremely rare and that New Orleans suposedly had some pretty lightly struck coins, and a pretty small production numbers for this version in this year. I’ve read that only four of these are officially known, last sale in 1979 for about $40,000.00 dollars. The unique fonted “3” in the date, and the way it is worn, would make this nearly impossible to have remade out of another coin. It is actually still able to be I.D.’d in that it is not worn completely flush. The obverse has all the Mrs. Liberty out lines clear, no device detail. All but one of the stars are clear, top half of date is clear, but the bottom half is hold to the light right. The reverse is actually ten times more appealing with strong device outlines but feathers are pretty much smoothed. What do I have here Doc?
Actually, the very coin in the Stacks sale in 1979 was sold privately in the 1990’s for $275,000. This is the famous no-arrows, no-rays, 1853-O half dollar. I think the coin was graded VF in the ’79 sale but was slabbed by PCGS, Fine. It doesn’t matter, it still is a major rarity and historic. I think Eliasberg had one, but it was the lowest grade of the 3 or maybe 4 that are supposed to exist (I think it was an AG) and there was one in Garrett that might have been a VF. That I believe is the highest grade known for this coin.
There are no mint records that show this coin being produced. Numismatists speculate that the no-arrows no- rays 1853 New Orleans half dollar might have been minted for presentation purposes and were spent later.
This is one of the rarest and most desirable coins in United States coinage. If you believe you have discovered another example, you will want to have the coin authenticated by ANA, PCGS or NGC. See their links on the CoinSite Links page .