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US Barber Half Dollar 1892 to 1915
The design of Charles Barber dominated US coins around the turn of the 19th century. His depiction of Miss Liberty and heraldic eagle design appears on dimes, quarters, and half dollars of the period. These coins are highly sought by collectors, especially specimens that have little wear.
Nick's 1908D coin is a *common date* for the series. That means most dates have catalog values that are the same as Nick's coin:
heavily worn: $8 US dollars catalog value
worn (numismatic 'good' condition): $16
average circulated ('very fine', similar to our picture): $100
well preserved ('extra fine'): $200
fully uncirculated ('mint state'): $550 and up
Coins that are severely worn or damaged will only be worth their silver content. Each Barber Half Dollar has a silver content of 0.362 troy ounces. By looking up the current value of silver on a site like kitco.com, (around $23.50) we can find the coin's silver value by multiplying with the silver content: 0.362 x $23.50 = about $8.50 US Dollars.
Be sure you understand what 'catalog' means. Use our Important Terminology link at the upper left.
Describing what 'numismatic good' means gets us into the slippery topic of coin grading. Coin collectors use the word 'good' to indicate a coin that is very worn, but not worn too much. It must qualify as a worthy collectible piece to rate the grade of good. Most coin collectors insist that all coins in their collection carry a minimum grade of good, or G-4. But they also define three more grades below G-4:
About Good, AG-3
Most Barber halves that are still around grade below G-4. They have been worn to a frazzle. If your coin grades PO-1 or FR-2, it is worth only the silver value. Get the picture?
The definitive online dissertation on coin grading is by Scott A. Travers. Our favorite online resource for grading US coins is CoinAuctionsHelp.
Here are the *better* dates and mint marks in the Barber Half series, which carry values more than the remaining dates. If you have one of these, it is worth 100s of dollars, in G-4 condition or better. The value after the date in the list below gives approximate catalog value for coins in average circulated condition. Coins with more wear are worth less. Coins with less wear are worth much more. Problems, such as scratches, spots, stains, cleanings, nicks, gouges, and similar damage will render the coin almost valueless.
1892O: $650 in average circulated condition
1913: $450 (cannot have mint mark)
1914: $550 (cannot have mint mark)
1915: $400 (cannot have mint mark)
There are also some 'decent dates' - these are not worth a premium above the values listed in the first table IF they are worn. However, in average circulated condition and above, they are less common. The value after the date in the list below is the approximate catalog value of an average circulated coin of that year and mint.
1893: $150 in average circulated condition (cannot have mint mark)
1894: $200 (cannot have mint mark)
1895: $150 (cannot have mint mark)
1896: $175 (cannot have mint mark)
1905: $300 (cannot have mint mark)
1910: $200 (cannot have mint mark)
These above catalog values are for coins in average circulated condition free of problems like cleanings, holes, stains, spots, scratches or anything of that sort. Coins of the years and mint marks listed above in better condition than average circulated will be worth considerably more. In worse condition, use the 'common dates' table at the top of the page.
Do you see how nice the coin in the picture looks? Even though the coin is well worn, it still looks nice. This is called 'eye appeal' and it appears only once in a while. Collectors pay premiums for good eye appeal.