Second to last in rounding out the United States coinage uniformity of the period, the Seated Liberty Half dollar was introduced in 1839. The coin was designed by Christian Gobrecht, based on instructions from Mint Director Robert Patterson which in turn, were inspired by similar British coins.
The original coin's obverse features lady liberty seated atop a rock, balancing the Union Shield in her right hand while holding a long "Liberty pole" with her left hand. Draped over the top of the pole is the traditional Liberty mobcap, and across the shield lays a ribbon printed with the word "Liberty". Thirteen stars arc along the top of the coin, with seven on the left and six on the right. The mint year appears at the bottom.
The coin's reverse starts with the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" arcing along the top. A scrawny-looking eagle is in the middle of the reverse, with the Union Shield adorning its chest. Clutched in its left claw is a set of three arrows, and in its right claw, olive branches. At the bottom of the reverse appears "HALF DOL.".
The coin was modified several times during its lifetime, the first was in 1853, adding outward-facing arrowheads on either side of the mint year on the obverse. This design only lasted for one mint year, however, and was removed in 1856. In 1866, a ribbon was added to the reverse, just above the eagle's head, printed with "IN GOD WE TRUST". From 1873 to 1874, they tried the arrowheads again, and ditched them just as quickly as the first time.
The coin was retired in 1891.
United States Coinage