Monday, January 29, 2018

Are There Any Collectors of Early American Republic Coins Out There?

I need the diameter of the 1790s U.S. half dollar coin.  There is an English visitor who describes a local firing at a half dollar at 50 yards and hitting it.

Thanks.  Many found authoritative sources showing 32.5mm.  This is an absurd MOA, so perhaps partly luck, but likely also an excellent shot.


  1. Both the Flowing Hair and Drapped Bust US half dollar have a diameter of 32.5mm.

  2. I'm a coin collector, but don't have any of these, more's the pity! The US 50c was first minted in 1794, and here's a source which says the diameter is 32.5mm (about 1.3 inches.)

    Current half dollars are slightly smaller: 30.61mm or 1.205 inches.

    Here's Bob Munden shooting a silver dollar & a half dollar out of the air with a .45 more recently:

  3. Mint Act of April 2, 1792:
    Flowing Hair Half Dollar: 1794, 1795
    89.24% silver
    10.76% copper
    approximate weight 13.48 grams (208 grains)
    diameter 32.5 millimeters.

    Draped Bust; 1796 to 1797 with small eagle reverse:
    1801 to 1807 with heraldic eagle reverse
    Designer: Robert Scot
    Diameter: 32.5 millimeters
    Silver - 89.2%
    Copper - 10.8%
    Weight: 208 grains (13.5 grams)

    Wouldn't this have much more than a day's wage at the time? Kind of an expensive "bet you can't hit this at 50-yards" bet!

  4. US coin collecting website lists the diameter of the 1794-1795 half dollar as 32.5mm. The uncirculated coin set for 2017 gives the half dollar diameter as 30.61mm.

  5. This link:

    Says the diameter of a 1794 half-dollar is +/- 32.5mm. The 1795 half dollar was struck using the same dies, and would have the same diameter.

  6. According to this chart of US Mint coin sizes,
    the size of the half-dollar from 1796 to 1971 was 30.6mm. From 1971 to present it is 30.61.

    So about the same size as today. That's some good shootin'.

  7. A musket ball being about 18mm, the allowable error to hit the coin would be 32.5 + 18 or 50.5mm or 1.98 in. This is about 4 MOA which is not all that unreasonable especially if the shooter was using a rifled gun.

    Based on me remembering that a period rifle would have been a 12 ga. at .71".

    1. Actually, it would have been more like .45 to .50 caliber, with actual ball diameters something like .440 and .490 to accommodate a greased patch.

      Later rifles we're even small caliber, and in Appalachia during the 19th Century, as all of the big game was hunted out, it dropped to .40 caliber and smaller.

      The size you're referring to was a common musket ball size of the 18th Century, undersized to easily be loaded into a Short Land Pattern musket (the "Brown Bess") even with considerable fouling built up.

      Biggest rifles I know about from the 18th Century were the early American jaeger-style rifles that pre-dated the classic "Golden Age" style of long rifles, and they were generally .54 to .62 caliber, with transitional long rifles towards the lower end of that.