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1915 50C Panama-Pacific Half Dollar, Judd-1960 (previously ...

2003 November Signature Sale #334

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Auction Ended On: Nov 8, 2003
Item Activity: 7 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: New York, NY
1915 S-Less Panama-Pacific Half Dollar Die Trial in Gold, PR64
1915 50C Panama-Pacific Half Dollar, Judd-1960 (previously Judd-1793), Pollock-2031, R.8, PR64 NGC. Die trial issue of the 1915 Panama-Pacific half before the S mintmark was added. Struck in gold with a reeded edge. This remarkable coin is one of only two pieces known and its illustrious pedigree goes back as far as Virgil Brand. The story of this coin is best related in the Pollock reference. Pollock had carefully examined the #1 specimen, the Farouk-Norweb coin, but the same history and mysterious circumstances apply to this piece: "...planchet file marks and traces of an undertype, indicating that the half dollar dies were impressed on a cut-down $20 gold coin, which had been filed to remove high-relief details. This piece is remarkably thick: 2.4 mm at the edge versus 2.1 mm for a regular-issue Panama-Pacific half dollar.
"The characteristics of the coin suggest that it was made clandestinely. Since the piece is overstruck instead of being made using a new planchet of normal thickness, it can be inferred that there was a desire on the part of the manufacturer that no mention of the piece be made in the bullion account books, and thus if may have been produced secretly at the Mint in the same manner as the 1913 Liberty nickel or the Class III 1804 dollar. The only other known example of the variety, listed as No. 2 in our census (this piece), is reportedly also struck over a cut down $20 gold piece."
Close examination shows fine file marks that presumably would have effaced the design of the double eagle. However, a small remnant of the undertype survives on the reverse with a faint trace of what appears to be an O and a period to its left, located between the H in HALF and U of UNITED. Fully detailed, each side shows slight evidence of off-centered doubling on the devices. The surfaces are bright and have a glowing, satiny appearance with the matte-like texture of the copper and silver coins limited on this piece to the devices. An outstanding opportunity to acquire this rarity that has only been offered twice in the past 24 years. We believe the pedigree in Pollock is partially incorrect with the last appearance listed (from the Clarion Collection in State Rare Coin Auctions) not representing this coin, as this piece was purchased from the 1979 ANA, as were the copper and silver strikings and they have been consigned to us by the same collector.
Ex: Virgil Brand; B.G. Johnson; Celina Coin Co.; A. Friedman; 1979 ANA Sale (New England, 7/79), lot 1365, where it realized an amazing $27,000.
From The Sound Beach Collection. (#62267) (PCGS# 62267)

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