The Capped Bust Half Dimes were replaced by the Liberty Seated Half Dimes in 1837. The obverse of the Liberty Seated Half Dime features Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht's rendition of Liberty from the 1836 dollar coin. In this rendition, Liberty is seated on a rock holding a shield with 'LIBERTY' written accross it in her right hand and a staff with a Liberty cap in her left hand; the date appears below her. The reverse features the words 'HALF DIME' within a wreath. The legend 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA' appears around the wreath.
The Liberty Seated Half Dimes are broken into four distinct types:
No Stars Obverse
The original design, produced in 1837, with some rare varieties coming out of the New Orleans mint in 1838.
Stars Obverse (No Drapery and With Drapery)
In 1838, 13 Stars were engraved on the obverse side of the design to commemorate each of the original 13 American colonies. Liberty Seated Half Dimes, Stars Obverse, No Drapery were produced from 1838 to 1840. In 1840, artist Robert Hughes was hired by the Mint to modify the coin's design. Hughes reduced the size of the rock Liberty sits upon, stood her shield upright and added a drapery over her left elbow. He enlarged Liberty's head and arms, and raised the neckline of her dress. The lettering on the reverse was enlarged and the wreath was modified. This new type, Liberty Seated, Stars Obverse, With Drapery Half Dimes were produced from 1840 to 1859 with gaps in production between 1853 and 1855.
Arrows at Date
Production of the second type was interrupted from 1853 through 1855 when the weight of the Half Dime, along with all other silver coins, was reduced to keep the bullion value below the face value of the coin. These coins had arrowheads added on either side of the date to distinguish them. The arrows were removed in 1856 and Liberty Seated, Stars Obverse, With Drapery Half Dimes went back into circulation until replaced in 1860.
Legend on Obverse
In 1860, the design of the Liberty Seated Half Dime was changed for the last time. The figure of Liberty was retained, but the 13 stars were replaced with the legend 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA'. The simple wreath design on the reverse was replaced with a more complex wreath made of sprigs of wheat, corn, tobacco and oak. The sprigs are tied at the bottom with a bow and the denomination 'HALF DIME' appears within the wreath.