1846-O Seated Half Dollar

[The following article is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its authors, Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert. This information was originally published in 1993 in The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars.]

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MINTAGE: 2,304,000

PROOFS: None.

VARIETIES:

  • Authors’ Research Effort: extensive
  • Number of Die Marriages Documented: 25
  • Number of Head Dies Identified: 9
  • Number of Tail Dies Identified: 18
  • Number of Collar Reed Counts Identified: 4 (145, 146, 147, 148)
  • Standard Diameter or Diameter Range: 1.201 to 1.220 inches
  • Number of Major Varieties: 6
  • WB-101. MEDIUM DATE, NORMAL DATE. (3 HEAD DIES)
    This variety contains the generic medium date without recutting on the date. Not counting the marriages
    of the other varieties, it is composed of 9 marriages from 3 head and 3 tail dies. (Breen-4791 and 4792)
  • WB-102. MEDIUM DATE (SO-CALLED 1846/5?). (1 HEAD DIE)
    This variety has a single head die paired with 3 tail dies. Beistle [3] describes this head as “…Weakly struck date. Upper serif of 1 is a straight light line, and 6 is re-cut over 5. No-Drapery at the elbow. Six heavy akcidefect lines (clash marks) are across the legs at the knees.” All this is true but the 6/5; we believe Beistle saw a slightly recut ball of the 6 and a die crack from the outside lower left loop of the 6 and believed these to be evidence of an earlier 5. All coins we have seen have the clash lines and are without drapery from the elbow. The dies must have clashed very early (accounting for the clash marks across the knees) and hence, were heavily polished to remove the evidence of the clashing (accounting for the no drapery). All 3 marriages can be found with some searching; one tail has a cud above ITE in late die states. (Breen-4795 and 4796)
  • WB-103. MEDIUM DATE, RECUT 18. (1 HEAD DIE)
    This variety has 2 marriages: a single head die paired with 2 tail dies (identifiable by differences in mintmark position and die cracks). The 18 in the date is distinctively recut north; evidence of underlying digits 18 show clearly slightly below the prominent 18. The head die can be seen in later die states with weak drapery. (Breen-4793 and 4794)
  • WB-104. MEDIUM DATE, RECUT 1 & 6. (1 HEAD DIE)
    Often called an overdate (6/5), this head die has two identifying characteristics: the 1 is noticeably recut south (remnants of an early 1 show slightly but clearly above the base of the 1) and the inside ioop of the 6 has a raised lump which we believe is attributable to poor relief on the punch used to form the 6 (see
    1846-P WB-102 to WB-104). This die is paired with 2 different tail dies (identifiable by major die crack differences) to form 2 marriages. Recutting inside the 6 disappears as does most of the drapery in the second marriage. (Breen-4794)
  • WB-105. MEDIUM DATE, RECUT 6. (1 HEAD DIE)
    Often misattributed as an overdate (6/5), the 6 is recut southwest. Remnants of the early lower portion of a 6 appear strongly within the loop of the prominent 6. In early die states, a weak curved portion of the lower loop of a 6 shows outside to the right of the loop of the 6. The head die is paired with 4 tail dies (identified primarily by differences in die cracks). Signs of the first 6 fade on the third marriage and disappear completely on the fourth, We have seen more of this variety than any of the 1846-0 listings except WB-101. (Included in Breen-4791)
  • WB-106. LARGE DATE, NORMAL DATE. (2 HEAD DIES)
    This scarce variety has 6 marriages: two head dies are paired with 6 different tail dies, all easily identifiable by different die cracks. This number of marriages is remarkable considering its scarcity; all are very difficult to find and collecting all marriages will challenge the most advanced collector. (Breen-4797)

COMMENTS:

  • Most 1846-0 Liberty Seated Half Dollars come strongly struck. However, this date is noted for an abundance of no drapery die states resulting from heavy die polishing (see drapery die states section in Chapter 2).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

  • Much confusion exists over identifying the difference between the medium and large date varieties for this year. Considering the premium price of the large date, it is important to correctly differentiate these. Besides the dramatic difference between the size of the dates (when compared side by side or when measured), a quick check can be performed by studying the 4. The medium 4 is connected between the lower serif on the crossbar and the base. Whereas, the large 4 has a noticeable separation. See the section in Chapter 2 on date size for additional information.
  • A small hoard of approximately 20 circulated WB- 106′s was formed and recently dispersed by a prominent LSCC member.
  • An interesting letter dated May 16th, 1846 from New Orleans Superintendent J. M. Kennedy to Mint Director R. M. Patterson can be found in [18]; extracted it states “…1/2 dollar die, … has already stamped about 120,000 pieces.”

About Randy Wiley & Bill Bugert

The authors of "The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars", published by DLRC Press in 1993. This groundbreaking book was the first (and still the only) to offer an in-depth analysis and die variety study on the series. The books have been long out-of-print and are published now online for open access to all collectors.
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