Q. David Bowers (edited and updated by Mike Sherman): In 1838, thirteen stars were added to the obverse of the Liberty Seated motif. This style was continued through 1859, plus 1860 at the San Francisco Mint only. The reverse is similar to the preceding but the wreath on the later issues is slightly heavier. Early issues lack drapery at Miss Liberty’s elbow.
The type set collector has their choice of numerous varieties within this span, including a number of New Orleans and San Francisco pieces. While issues such as 1844, 1846 and certain San Francisco pieces are rare, enough common issues exist that no difficulty will be experienced in acquiring a typical example from Good to Extremely Fine grade. AU and Uncirculated pieces are slightly harder to find, though by no means can be called “rare.”
As is the case with half dimes, certain dimes of 1853, and all those dated 1854 and 1855 have arrows at the date to signify a reduction in weight, and are considered a separate type.
-- Reprinted with permission from "United States Coins by Design Types - An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor" by Q. David Bowers