Extremely Rare Gem 1892-O Micro O Half1892-O 50C Micro O MS65 NGC. This legendary rarity was known as early as 1893, when Augustus G. Heaton mentioned it in his landmark treatise, Mint Marks. He wrote, "there is one rare variety of this piece [the 1892-O half] with an exceedingly small o, hardly larger than a period." When writing his 1988 Encyclopedia, Walter Breen's formidable memory neglected Heaton's remark. He credited large cent specialist Howard Newcomb with the discovery, circa 1914.
Like other known Uncirculated Micro O halves, the present piece is moderately prooflike. This suggests that few pieces were struck, since any later strikes would instead display cartwheel luster. The obverse features light pearl-gray and golden-brown patina. The reverse has similar but deeper toning. Careful study beneath a loupe fails to reveal relevant marks, although the strike is slightly soft in the vertical area between the right shield corner and the fletchings. Encapsulated in an old pre-hologram NGC holder that omits the Micro O designation! Census: 1 in 65, 1 finer (4/08).
Only a handful of Mint State 1892-O Micro O half dollars have appeared at auction since 1986. Ranked in order of prices realized, these include:
1. MS67 PCGS. William C. Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 581; James A. Stack Collection (Stack's, 3/1975), lot 572; Queller Family Collection of U.S. Half Dollars (Stack's, 10/2002), lot 723; LaBelle Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 7/2005), lot 1186, which realized $97,750.
2. MS65 NGC. Long Beach Sale (Paramount, 1975), lot 870; Auction '86 (Paramount, 7/1986), lot 1659; Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 125; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 4200, which realized $69,000.
3. MS67 Uncertified. Lyman H. Low, 7/1903; J.M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Collection (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 2065, which realized $59,400.
4. MS65 NGC. The present coin. Moreira Sale (Superior, 1/1989), lot 4524; Jascha Heifetz Collection (Superior, 10/1989), lot 3770, which realized $20,900.
5. MS62 NGC. Robert W. Schwan Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/2000), lot 1339, which realized $10,350; Central States Signature (Heritage, 5/2007), lot 2138, unsold.
Earlier Uncirculated auction appearances, which may be duplicates of those listed above: Empire Collection (Stack's, 11/1957), lot 1487; R.E. Cox, Jr. (Stack's, 4/1962), lot 2044; Reed Hawn Collection (Stack's, 8/1973), lot 320; Auction '81 (Superior, 7/1981), lot 755. Those lots are plated in their respective catalogs, but the photo quality does not allow positive identification.
From The Silbermünzen Collection.(Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 24LH, PCGS# 6463)
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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato is the culmination of more than 10 years of research into the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series, one of the most coveted type coins in American numismatics and one about which remarkably little has been written.
This work will be the premier reference for 1796-1797 half dollars for years to come. Institutions having an extensive numismatic library or coin cabinet will find it a valuable complement to their holdings, and catalogers charged with writing up specimens for auction can now have an indispensable source of background and pedigree information. Likewise, coin dealers seeking to purchase one or more '96 or '97 half dollars for a client or for inventory, and collectors who own, have owned, or desire to own one will want this important reference work for their libraries.
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