Flowing Hair Half Dollars

Source: My Coin Guides: The Flowing Hair Half Dollar was among the first of all silver coins to be struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The series was issued for only two years from 1794 to 1795 and survivors are scarce, particularly for the lower mintage first year of issue. The Flowing Hair design of the coin is shared by the contemporary silver dollars and half dimes, but the half dollar is considered by many to be the most affordable option to acquire an example of this historic design, which circulated in the young nation.

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The coins were designed by Robert Scot. The obverse of the Flowing Hair Half Dollar features the head of Liberty, facing right. Her hair is flowing back, as if in a gentle breeze, with no ornamentation or decoration. The truncation of the neck is relatively high compared to later designs. Fifteen stars, representing the number of states in the Union at the time, appear are positioned with eight to the left and seven to the right. The word “Liberty” appears above and the date below.

The reverse of the coins carried a design that would be used on all of the silver coinage of the United States for a number of years. An American Bald Eagle is seen, perched on a cloud, with wings spread. The eagle is enclosed by a wreath, slightly open at the top and having two ribbons near the bottom. The words “United States of America” appear surrounding, starting to the left of the wreath near the bottom and ending on the opposite side.

As every die for the Flowing Hair Half Dollar was handmade, many different varieties exist. The placement of the obverse stars, date, eagle, and lettering are all taken for the purposes of identification. Alongside later half dollar designs, this type is often collected by die variety, with large premiums paid for the scarcest varieties.