1879 50C Washlady Half Dollar, Judd-1597, Pollock-1791, High R.6
The Charles Barber Society Lady design, popularly called the Washlady, although it is an unfortunate misnomer. Liberty's lush hair is piled atop her head, with IN GOD WE TRUST above and stars seven left, six right. On the reverse a perched eagle holds an olive branch with seven leaves. Three arrows pass behind the wing. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR are at the rim, with the Latin motto in a wide inner arc above the eagle. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.
USPatterns.com notes that the Washlady moniker apparently takes its source from the April 1891 sale of the Doughty Collection by Harlan P. Smith and David Proskey, adding that it is considered "today to be one of the most beautiful designs" ever made by the U.S. Mint. Although not quite in the same league as the Amazonian, Shield Earring, or Schoolgirl patterns, the Washlady coinage is nonetheless truly attractive and quite desirable. The Washlady half dollars, as the population data below attest, have an added benefit: While still quite rare, they are somewhat more available than those Big Three patterns, and most of the survivors, when found, are attractive and high-grade.
PR66 Cameo $21,850.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1879 50C Washlady Half Dollar, Judd-1598, Pollock-1792, High R.6
The Washlady design is attributed to Charles Barber, with Liberty's hair bound behind the head. The obverse has UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the border with the date below the bust. The reverse has an eagle clutching an olive branch and three arrows. The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA legend and E PLURIBUS UNUM motto follow inside the upper reverse border with the denomination expressed as HALF. DOLLAR below. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.
It is thought that between 12 and 15 examples of this variety exist and we have offered a few nice examples of this half dollar pattern over the years. References on the subject note that Morgan's Schoolgirl patterns are more highly regarded than Charles Barber's Society Lady--or Washlady--motif. Interestingly, a side-by-side comparison shows that both designs feature a similar likeness of Miss Liberty, only with differing hairstyles.