The Liberty Head Half Eagle $5 gold pieces introduced in 1839 shared a design with the new Eagles released the year before and the Quarter Eagles that would arrive the following year, thus continuing the Mint’s long tradition of uniformity among the nation’s coins. Acting Engraver Christian Gobrecht, whose artistic style was heavily influenced by the Neoclassicism of the day, was charged with designing the new gold pieces. The Half Eagles’ obverse, inspired by Benjamin West’s famous painting Omnia Vincit Amor (“Love Conquers All”), depicts a left-facing bust of Liberty, hair knotted in back with hanging curls, wearing a coronet inscribed “Liberty”. The reverse features a very naturalistic American eagle holding arrows and an olive branch in its talons with a shield across its breast. By looking backward to antiquity, Gobrecht’s design offered the American people an aura of stability and assurance in a time of great social and technological change.
Liberty Head Half Eagles were minted in two slight variations from 1839 through 1908 in Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (“S” mintmark), Charlotte, North Carolina (“C”), Dahlonega, Georgia (“D”), Carson City, Nevada (“CC”), New Orleans (“O”), and Denver (“D”), are composed of .90% gold yielding .24187 troy ounces of pure gold per coin, and measure 21.6mm in diameter.
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