Silver Half Dime History and Background

Silver Half Dime

The half dime denomination had been authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792 as the smallest silver coins to be struck for circulation. Prior to 1829, production of the denomination was sparse, sometimes with many years between different issues. With the introduction of the Capped Bust Half Dime in 1829, large numbers of the coins were minted with regularity.

Meanwhile, a major reform in American coinage was about to take place. These changes would begin with the relocation of the Mint to a new building and location in 1933. Even more importantly, the machinery and coining practices would undergo significant changes. These were the result of the efforts of Franklin Peale who had traveled to Europe on behalf of the United States. He remained there for a full two years, acquiring a vast knowledge of coining practices which would change the United States Mint for decades to come.

Both the production of the dies used for coinage as well as the coin production itself was extensively altered. One of the major improvements came in early 1836, when a steam-powered coining press was introduced at the Philadelphia Mint. Compared to the old screw press, it was capable of producing many more coins during a given time with less labor.

By this time, the Mint had begun looking for a replacement to bring uniformity to the American coins in circulation, in particular the silver and gold coins. New designs were introduced for both half dimes and dimes in 1837, with new designs following for the larger denominations over the next few years.