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Memorable 1916-S Indian Head Eagle, MS661916-S $5 MS66 PCGS. As the authors of the Garrett-Guth Gold Encyclopedia point out, the 1916-S is an issue that was saved in an original hoard of several hundred Mint State pieces when it came out, and today it is in the midrange of the series in terms of rarity. Looking at the PCGS certified population in terms of the numbers of Gems certified, it becomes obvious that several dates--1908, 1908-S, 1909, 1909-D, and the P-mint issues from 1911 through 1915--have several dozen survivors each in MS65.
At the Premium Gem (MS66) level, however, the equation changes remarkably. While PCGS has certified more than 640 Indian Head half eagles in MS65, in MS66 that number drops to 55 coins for the entire series--a decrease by more than an order of magnitude. And among S-mint issues, while the 1916-S actually shows more Gem survivors than any other issue save for the first-year 1908-S, in MS66 the number of 1916-S coins so certified plummets to three pieces, making it appear that the finest pieces from that hoard were several MS65 coins and an MS66 or two.
While we cannot pinpoint the source of this coin, in the final essence it little matters. What does matter is its remarkable state of preservation, a piece that has been lovingly and carefully stored for many decades. The only contact mark visible is a small scrape in the field before the Indian. The Indian's cheek is free of even the smallest abrasions, and elsewhere, for example on the highpoints of the eagle's wings and breast, there are similarly no mentionable impairments.
The surfaces are a light khaki-gold, and radiant luster issues forth from each side, much deeper and more intense than normally seen on this type coin. A memorable coin for a fine date or type set, and one tied with two other coins at PCGS as the finest of the issue (7/07). (Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 28DY, PCGS# 8532)
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