Skip to main content

1890 Barber half dollar likely an altered coin

Your 1890-dated Barber half dollar undoubtedly is an altered coin, so it would have no value other than bullion.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

I?m enclosing photos of my 1890 Barber half dollar. I can?t find it in any catalog. Can you help?

Your 1890-dated Barber half dollar undoubtedly is an altered coin, so it would have no value other than bullion. There is no possible way that a die could ? or would ? have been altered at the Mint to produce just one coin. My guess would be that it probably was a 1900 date originally. It may even be a counterfeit, but either way it is technically illegal to own, trade, sell or even give away, so it should be turned in to the Secret Service. You can do this by turning the coin in at a local bank that is a member of the Federal Reserve System.

Is there really a 1782-dated half dollar?

There is, but not from the U.S. Mint, which didn?t even exist. Some of the halves are found with 1782 dates, some with 1787, some with just 178. All are counterfeits, made not long after 1800. The 15-star design puts them in that time period.

Is there a precedent for our clad coinage?

Clad coinage has been around for some time. The Greeks instituted a silver clad copper coinage after A.D. 700.

What is the first printed reference to the 1804 dollars?

The first I can find is the ?Manual of Coin and Bullion,? which was published about 1842, showing the 1804 coin as the ?type? coin for the issue from 1797 to 1805.

I have a thin coin that is smaller than normal. The diameter is less, and the design seems to be reduced to match.

Smaller and thinner usually means the coin has been reduced with acid. There are hundreds of cents of all dates around that have been altered with acid, but these pieces usually are thinner than a normal cent and have a generally ?fuzzy? surface appearance. The key point in identification is that the design is essentially complete even on a paper thin coin. This would not happen with a genuine thin planchet strike, which would show missing or weak detail because of a lack of metal to fill the dies.

How did the Mickley 1804 dollar get its name?

The coin reputedly was discovered by a bank teller and purchased by Joseph J. Mickley, an early day numismatist, sometime before 1859. It was sold with his collection in 1867 to W.A. Lilliendahl, later to William S. Appleton, then bequeathed to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1905 and last sold in 1970.

Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 39-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to