1877 50C Morgan Half Dollar, Judd-1514, Pollock-1678, Low R.7, PR67 Cameo NGC....
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Orange County Convention Center
PR67 Cameo, Finest at NGC
Design. The obverse is similar to the Morgan dollar, but the head of Liberty is surrounded by a beaded circle, with 13 stars and E PLURIBUS UNUM around the edge. The date 1877 is below. On the reverse a so-called "defiant eagle" is perched on a scroll inscribed IN GOD WE TRUST. An olive branch points left, and three arrowheads point right. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.
Commentary. Despite the popular terminology, the defiant eagle, while it may have its wings spread, is rather dyspeptic in appearance. The pose seems staid and monumental rather than lifelike, and the unnaturally heavy wings appear to be Oriental fans. This bird would never have flown. George T. Morgan seems to have had a peculiarly difficult time engraving our national bird, and none of his attempts are more than qualified successes.
Numismatic art critic Cornelius Vermeule comments concerning the reverse of the Morgan dollar in his recently released second edition of Numismatic Art in America:
"It can also be noted from the snatches of correspondence quoted above that George T. Morgan was unsatisfied with the tradition of Peter, the then-stuffed eagle at the Philadelphia Mint. The 'studies in nature' that he would seem to have procured for the eagle, however, must have had little effect on his oeuvre, for the bird on the reverse of the 1878 silver dollar is much more removed from reality than the creatures on some of the patterns for trade dollars in 1873. Some details, to be sure, like the broad tail, betray ornithological research, but in total substance the eagle with wings spread is as heraldic as his early 19th-century counterparts with the shields on their stomachs. Clearly, Morgan's dollar was a refreshing step away from the standard Gobrecht-styled seated Liberty with 'sandwich-board' eagle, but the decisive moment of revolution in American numismatic art had not yet arrived."
Physical Description. The coin is virtually flawless; the only interruptions in the surfaces are a few tiny lint marks that were struck into the piece at the time of minting. The centers are brilliant and surrounded by a ring of golden-brown toning at the margins. The fields are deeply mirrored, and the devices present stark cameo contrast on both obverse and reverse. In PR67 Cameo, this piece is the single finest certified at NGC. The finest at PCGS is a PR64 example (11/08).
Census. Per USPatterns.com, only seven examples are known. See that reference for a detailed census, from which this provenance is also expanded.
Ex: Maj. Lenox Lohr; R.E. Cox Jr., private treaty transaction (1959), $250; Cox Collection (Stack's, 4/1962), lot 2266; Champa Collection (American Auction Association, 5/1972), lot 1063; Stack's private treaty transaction (2/1978).
From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (PCGS# 61852)
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