Coin Values Moving with Precious Metals: Up-Dated 4/8/2024: Gold $2332 | Silver $27.61

1896 Half Dollar Value

Even though the large silver content is a strong minimum for 1896 half dollar value. Collector grade examples and scarce mint varieties are elusive and worth higher premiums.

A vast majority of these Barber halves were in circulation for a significant amount of time, resulting in most becoming quite worn. Collectable quality of a coin is determined by the presence of fine details in Liberty's portrait. Beginning with this quick pass of condition, proceed to the "grading" phase in Step 2. In order to determine the coin's condition and value, a series of images are used to compare levels of preservation.

1896 Half Dollar - Barber Half Dollar Series - Obverse and Reverse View

Steps Leading to Value:

  • Step 1: Date and Mintmark Variety - Demand by collectors is focused on both the date and exact mint that struck the 1896 Barber half dollar. An inspection is needed to confirm the correct mint variety combination.
  • Step 2: Grading Condition - A Barber half dollar from 1896 is rather uncommon. In high grade, it is a coin with a high value. Compare images of stages of wear to judge condition.
  • Step 3: Special Qualities - Today, a limited number of these old coins remain, proper storage options are used to maintain their quality.
1896 Half Dollar Value
 Condition of Coin
Barber Half Dollar Values Updated 4/8/2024
1896 $19.83 $98 $223 $498
1896 O $52 $161 $1,414 Rare
1896 S $91 $285 $945 Rare

Listed on the chart is a range of Wholesale values of Barber half dollars. Identifying mintmarks is an important factor to confirm. See Step 1 just below.

Step 1: | Date and Mintmark Variety Leads to Correct Listing on Chart

Mintmarks Identify and Narrow 1896 Half Dollar Value

By determining the specific mint that struck the coin, values of these vintage half dollars is more precisely determined. The value chart places all branch mints at strong premiums over Philadelphia half dollars.

Mintmarks were used to identify coinage produced by branch mints. Finding the various marks requires a close examination of the reverse.

1896-S Barber Half Dollar

"S" Mintmark on Reverse: San Francisco Mint Struck the Coin

S Mintmark Barber Half Dollar

Half dollars struck at the San Francisco mint in 1896 totaled just 1,140,000 pieces. Now a scarce issue of the series. Examples with a higher level of preservation than heavily worn are a serious addition to any collection of Barber halves. These are becoming the high value variety of the three mints that produced halves that year. Confirming both the date and the important mint variety is required to recognize its place on the value chart.

A letter "S" located on the reverse of all San Francisco Barber series half dollars and is used to identify these coins. Inspect the very bottom of the coin, in the space between the eagle's tail feathers and the words "Half Dollar." The "S" mintmark represents San Francisco.

1896-O Barber Half Dollar

"O" Mintmark on Reverse: New Orleans Mint Struck the Coin

O Mintmark 1896 Barber Half Dollar

A noted decline in half dollar production occurred at the New Orleans mint during the middle years of the 1890s decade. 1896 is the fifth lowest recorded mintage year during the Barber series half dollars. The limited production of 924,000 half dollars guarantees collector attention. Collectors highly value all stages of preservation for these elusive coins. In Step 2, it is important to determine a grade of its condition.

Identify the New Orleans 1895 half dollar by its large "O" mintmark. Below the eagle and just above HALF DOLLAR, a large "O" confirms the coin was struck in New Orleans.

1896 Barber Half Dollar

No Mintmark on Reverse: Philadelphia Mint Struck the Coin

No Mintmark Barber Half Dollar

The middle of the 1890's decade was noted for low production numbers of half dollars by the Philadelphia mint. These are all considered collectibles and valued above base silver worth. 1896 mintage total of just over 930,000 half dollars is the seventh lowest by Philadelphia during the series. Well preserved examples are elusive and in demand. A nice coin to represent a low mintage example from the nineteenth century.

Philadelphia issues are recognized by the absence of a mintmark on the reverse. An empty space just above the "DO letter of "Dollar" confirms the Philadelphia variety.

Step 2: | Recognize the Grade and Condition in Demand

Grading with Images Identifies Collectible Condition

Demand and the resulting values of Barber Half Dollar are also based on their condition. Grading the condition of the coin becomes important. Amount of wear to the surface is evaluated, and graded Standards of different levels of wear are imaged in order to compare and narrow the grade range.

In the following images, highlighted are areas to focus on that exhibit recognizable wear patterns. Compare your coin to each image to narrow its condition.

Mint State Grade

Barber Half Dollar Mint State Grade

Mint State: At the top of the grading scale are Mint State condition coins. These are defined as having no wear on the surface. A broader description includes all surfaces are covered with luster. Luster is a key element to the grade. It has a fine texture imparted during the minting process. As dies impact the blank metal to impress the design, movement of the metal results in this fine texture, allowing the coin to shine under a light.

A close inspection of both low areas and high relief areas confirms a similar look. Liberty's hair Just below the ribbon with "Liberty" inscribed is a high relief area of her portrait. Small details of hair strands remain with both luster and no evidence of smoothing or dulling of the silver. A second area is the cap on Liberty's head. This feature is also high relief towards the edges, and smoothing occurs here first. On the example half dollar, all parts of the cap are similar in appearance, again, no smooth spots, and covered in a glowing shine.

Using a magnifying glass and viewing under a single light, brightness moves across the coin as it is tilted.

Extremely Fine Grade

Barber Half Dollar Extremely Fine Grade

Extremely Fine: A collector market for Barber halves in Extremely Fine condition is active. To meet the requirements for this high level of preservation, a few important elements must remain present. To begin, the grade is defined as a coin displaying all minor detail with only light wear smoothing the highest relief details.

"LIBERTY" completely visible and legibly within the headband holding Liberty's hair is a crucial factor for collectors. This area, which has a very high contour, is prone to wear, smoothing the ribbon that holds the lettering. Extremely Fine grade examples displays all lettering and ribbon edges clearly. These fine details give the coin a distinct, refined appearance.

Liberty's portrait features low reliefs along her jaw, as well as highly contoured areas. To qualify for the grade, her eyebrow is only slightly smoothed and flattened at its highest point. Also, there is a slight flattening under Liberty's eye, but her cheeks and neck remain well rounded. A lack of widespread connecting of flattened areas is one of the requirements for the grade. There are fine, visible details, and fully contoured features on these high-quality coins.

Fine Grade

Fine Grade Barber Half Dollar

Fine Grade: Looking at the example Fine grade half dollar in its entirety reveals a surface with obvious widespread wear. There are, however, some areas with small scale design features visible, giving the coin an appearance of moderate detail. The headband, leaves of the wreath, and the back of Liberty's cap are all features to inspect.

Importantly, all letters to "LIBERTY" within the headband are visible, a necessary requirement for the grade to confirm. A slight fading to "ER" along its lower area is often seen. The coin is closer to Fine condition than a higher grade because the headband's upper and lower edges have merged with her hair.

Near Liberty's ear, notice the wreath's once-bold leaves have become smooth, leaving only their outlines visible. Complete outlines on the upper row and blended leaves on the lower row are characteristics of a coin graded Fine. Examining her cap, flattened, and worn metal is visible throughout, except for slight remaining contours indicating folds. Separation of the cap and leaves, as well as the cap's subtle high and low areas, place this in the Fine grade condition. A coin that many consider appealing as a collectible.

Good Grade

1896 Barber Half Dollar in Good Grade

Good Grade: A "Good" grade half dollar displays features helping give these coins a certain appeal despite the amount of wear. Liberty's portrait worn smooth, with few central design elements visible defines the grade.

Note the slight amount of wreath detail showing. Partial leaves along the bottom of her cap place the coin above severely worn examples.

Collectors seek examples in this grade displaying a complete rim, no merging with stars or lettering. Although her hairline above her forehead is smooth, the remaining detail of the eye and ear are important to the condition. Soft toning of the metal highlights the overall design, giving it a sharp appearance.

How to Video: Grading Barber Half Dollars

Highlighting additional areas to judge plus specific elements needed for each grade improves accuracy. Often, small details are of large importance when examining these vintage Barber half dollars.

Video, Images and Descriptions | Grading Barber Half Dollars

Step 3: | Special Qualities | Preservation of Value

Barber Half Dollar | Quality Storage Options

Careful handling and proper storage of old coins maintains their quality and value. Humid conditions and coins in contact with each other are primary causes of deterioration.

Two specific supplies are an excellent choice to organize and store these old Barber half dollars.

Saflip and Tubes Storing Barber Half DollarsSaflip and Coin Tubes | Safe Storage for Barber Half Dollars

High quality Barber halves need protection, and housing them individually helps keep surface quality intact. Aging and toning on older coins is part of their aesthetic appeal to collectors. Properly housed, coins over time remain with these subtle qualities and stand out when viewed by collectors. As demand increases, natural surface qualities, when found on coins is awarded additional premiums.

The single Barber half dollar is housed in a Saflip brand holder. These protect the coin from handling, and allow viewing of both sides. "Coin flips" a collector term, are widely used to house and protect single coins. Every Fine grade and above Barber half dollar benefits from this added protection.

Coin tubes are suitable to house bullion quality halves, those valued based on silver price. Enclosed within the tube, old halves are well organized, and protected.

A personal choice are the Saflip brand coin flips and the coin tube imaged. These are sourced from

Handling old coins by the edges is an excellent start to avoid touching the delicate surface. Placing higher quality pieces in induvial holders improves preservation, storage, and maintaining quality.


U.S. Mint. 1897 U.S. Mint Annual Report
U.S. Mint. Catalogue of Coins of the United States.

Coin Values | CoinStudy Articles

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In Depth Barber Half Dollar Values
1892 to 1915

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Barber Half Dollar Value | Scarce Date and Mint Varieties

1896 Barber half dollar is part of a long running design series. The many date and mint varieties are covered in detail and listed on the value chart. Confirm date and mint combination, and judge condition to narrow how much these old half dollars are worth.

Old Coin Value | Images Identify the Different Series

Vintage - silver - half dollars, those minted before 1965 are of premium value because of silver content. Half dollar designs are imaged to recognize the different series over the years. Value charts include date and mint varieties. Follow the step-by-step method to judge condition and find a narrow value range.

Safe Coin Storage | Recommendations

Many old coins need and benefit when placed in holders to protect them from further damage. Coin supplies are specific to the coin hobby and provide safe storage, allowing safe handling, and avoiding contact with other coins. A review of a few storage options for both single coins and groups of coins.

Coin Grading Services | Authenticate and Grade of Coins

Professional grading services are routinely used by collectors to authenticate and grade the condition of higher valued, premium collectible coins. The top two in the coin community - NGC and PCGS grade and encapsulate coins with market accepted grading judgments. Review their services. Many Barber halves are in the premium value range, and accurate grading is key to accurate value.

Coin Values Discovery finds 1896 Barber Half Dollar Value and...

All U.S. coin values. A starting point to correctly identify your old coin. Recognize the important features of value with a step-by-step process. Continue with a full evaluation of specific dates, mints, and condition.