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Lot
4272

1853 50C Arrows and Rays MS66 PCGS. CAC....

2013 April 24 - 28 CSNS US Coin Signature Auction - Chicago #1184

 
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Auction Ended On: Apr 25, 2013
Item Activity: 13 Internet/mail/phone bidders Number of Bidders
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Location: Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel
1551 North Thoreau Drive
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Description:
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1853 Arrows and Rays Half Dollar, MS66
Extraordinary Preservation
1853 50C Arrows and Rays MS66 PCGS. CAC. An extraordinary Premium Gem of this dramatic single-year subtype. Both sides are lustrous and remarkably unabraded. Light chestnut-tan toning confirms the originality. The strike is complete, even on often-soft areas such as Liberty's hair and the eagle's left (facing) ankle. All stars have bold centrils, even the two that bookend Liberty's head. Each denticle is distinct.

Faint clash marks are apparent near Liberty's raised arm, and opposite within the shield and above the right claw. Slender die cracks on each side traverse the reverse periphery and connect the bases of the date digits. UNITED STATES appears to be minutely die-doubled toward the rim, visible on the letter tops.

The late-1840s discovery of gold in California was the indirect cause of the Arrows and Rays design. The United States had a bimetallic standard that valued gold and silver at a fixed ratio of approximately 16 to 1. The vast quantities of newly-mined California-mined gold made it undervalued relative to silver -- or silver overvalued relative to gold, another way of saying the same thing.

Speculators promptly hoarded silver coins, which were worth more than face value. The half dime through silver dollar disappeared from circulation. In contrast, gold coins were plentiful, particularly the gold dollar, a denomination introduced in 1849 along with the double eagle.

A debased silver three cent piece was added to the Mint roster in 1851, but no steps were taken concerning the half dime through half dollar until 1853. The Coinage Act of 1853 reduced the silver weight of those denominations, bringing their bullion value below face and allowing them to circulate.

The weight change was marked by arrows flanking the date on the half dime, dime, quarter, and half. In addition, rays were added to the reverse of the quarter and half. In 1854, the rays were removed from the design, perhaps in part because they reduced die life. The arrows were finally removed in 1856.

An outstanding Arrows and Rays Seated half dollar, worthy of the finest silver type set. Population: 5 in 66, 2 finer (2/13).
Ex: Richard Jewell Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 3/2005), lot 1794; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 2878.
From The Jim O'Neal Collection.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 24JJ, PCGS# 6275)

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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato

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