Throughout virtually its entire production lifespan, the Capped Bust Half Dollar with Lettered Edge (1807-1836) was the largest silver coin being struck in the United States Mint. It should come as no surprise to read, therefore, that this was the preferred denomination of contemporary banks and other bullion depositors. Most issues in this series have respectable mintages, and survivors can be found in circulated and lower Mint State grades without too much difficulty. Examples that grade higher than MS-63 are, however, scarce-to-rare from the standpoint of market availability.
The relatively high mintages posted for most Lettered Edge Capped Bust Halves required a sizeable number of working dies. As such, this series is perhaps the most widely pursued in all of U.S. numismatics as far as variety specialists are concerned. Many die marriages are plentiful in an absolute sense, but some are significant, highly respected rarities.
This type was designed by John Reich (born Johann Matthaus Reich), a German who sold himself into indentured servitude in the United States to escape the ravages of the Napoleonic Wars. Reich first come to prominence as an engraver in 1801, but opposition from then-Chief Engraver Robert Scot delayed his appointment as Assistant Engraver until 1807. The Capped Bust, Lettered Edge Half Dollar is widely regarded as Reich's most instantly recognizeable and enduring contribution to the U.S. coinage family.