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Milestone Gem 1871 Victoria 50 Cents MS65Victoria 50 Cents 1871, KM6, MS65 PCGS, Ex: Pittman-Grossman. Although it was less than half of the 1870 combined mintage for the No LCW and With LCW 50 Cents, the 1871's mintage of 200,000 pieces was nonetheless the largest through the remainder of the Victoria series that ended in 1901. Such low production figures perhaps give a good indication of how incredibly challenging a series the Victoria half dollars are. Examples of the 1871 are scarce in all grades, and extremely rare in the higher Mint State levels. The cataloging of this coin in the Pittman Collection (David Akers, 8/1999, lot 2362) is still so completely pertinent today that we cannot resist quoting it verbatim:
"50 Cents, 1871. Gem Uncirculated. An absolutely magnificent coin that is not only the finest 1871 50 Cent piece known, but also one of the finest Victoria 50 Cent pieces of any date in existence. It is one of the greatest coins in the entire Pittman Collection of Canadian coins. The coin is sharply struck with superb quality, lustrous, semi-prooflike surfaces and beautiful, medium multicolored toning, a gorgeous blend of russet, violet and blue with deeper shades at the borders. There are only a few microscopic marks hidden under the toning and the overall eye appeal of the piece is simply stunning. Whenever this coin has been displayed by as at various coin shows over the past several years, it has always been one of the most admired and talked about coins in our display. Purchased by [John Jay Pittman] as part of an 1871 mint set (the other denominations were offered earlier in this sale) from a Jim Charlton auction in November 1953 for $54.
"All Victoria 50 Cent issues are rare in mint state, and most such pieces are only of minimal Uncirculated quality. At the Choice Uncirculated level, any Victoria 50 Cent piece is a major rarity and the number of true Gems known is extremely small. (For many issues, no Gems are known or at most one or two.) The 1871 is a very scarce, if not rare, date in grades above Extremely Fine, and although a few average quality Uncirculated examples are known, this piece is far and away the finest known and the only true Gem. It is a remarkable and exciting coin that everyone interested in Canadian coins should examine closely just for the sheer pleasure of seeing such a magnificent Victoria 50 Cent piece. A gorgeous Gem example of the famous 1921 is offered a little later in this sale, but in this condition the 1871 is significantly more rare."
Those words ring as true today as they did when written a decade ago, and this splendid coin, whose appearance is unchanged, remains the lone Gem example certified at PCGS (7/09). It is equally true that the 1921 half dollar, long famed as the "King of Canadian Coins" (and an example of which is also in the present sale) has five pieces certified in MS65 or finer at PCGS--specifically, two each in MS65 and MS66, and one in MS67.
With an unparalleled desirability and unassailable pedigree, this coin should prove to be among the most outstanding performers in this milestone collection.
From the Canadiana Collection
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