Draped Bust Half Dollars (1796-1807)
Mintage of half dollars resumed in 1801 after a three-year hiatus between 1798 and 1800. This style, which continued through 1807, continued the Draped Bust obverse motif introduced in 1796, with 13 stars (seven left and six right) now standardized. The new “heraldic eagle” reverse introduced on the dimes and dollars in 1798, and the half dimes in 1800 now appeared on the halves as well. An adaptation of the Great Seal of the United States, it consisted of an eagle with a shield on its breast, holding arrows and an olive branch, with a scroll inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM in its beak. Above the eagle is an arc of clouds, below which is a group of stars. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds. No denomination appears.
There are no rare dates within the 1801 to 1807 span, although the 1801 and 1802 are the toughest, and some varieties are elusive. Nearly all specimens encountered display weakness of striking in one area or another, with the quality of strike becoming worse and worse as the years advanced. Nearly all halves dated 1806 and 1807 show weakness. Specimens are typically found in grades from Very Good to Very Fine, although Extremely Fine pieces can be found with some frequency. AU pieces are scarce, and strictly Uncirculated coins are rare. Even an Uncirculated specimen of 1807, for example, is apt to be very weakly defined in such areas as the rims, the obverse and reverse stars, and parts of the eagle.