The series contains a notable and rare variety, the 1892-O Micro O (where the mintmark punch meant for a quarter was used by mistake).
Fewer than 50 Micro O coins are known today. There is also rumored to be an 1898-O Micro O, but this has not been confirmed
with certainty, and no specimen has been certified by any of the major grading services.
Excluding the Micro O coins, there is no singular key date of the series, but it is loaded with semi-keys. Most mintmarked coins
from the 1890s are tough to find in any grade above VG (although the low-mintage 1892-O is always available in high grades,
because many nice specimans were saved as the first year of issue).
The most difficult coin in the set to find in high grades is unquestionably the 1904-S, and in true mint state, the coin is
even rarer than the 1901-S quarter. Despite population reports (which contain numerous resubmissions and some overgraded AU
and cleaned AU coins), there are almost certainly fewer than 25 to 30 mint state pieces in
A G to VG set can be readily put together by anyone with some patience, but high grade sets are difficult to assemble. There
are many coins that, while not really scarce as dates, are hard to find in nicer grades.
For information on grading Barber Halves, please see the Grading Barber Halves page.
A rarity rating survey was conducted among BCCS members a number of
years ago for circulated Barber halves. In 2007, the Society updated the survey with
much more detailed information, including more specific grade ranges, additional varieties, etc.
Look at the
2007 Rarity Ratings Survey for Barber Halves
The best single reference on this series is Complete Guide to Barber Halves by David Lawrence, with
detailed information about the series, and date-by-date analysis. This is an indespensible reference for the Barber Half