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Gem Proof 1826 Half Dollar, Ex: Cleneay, Green, Lichtenfels, Pittman1826 50C PR65 NGC. O-101, R.8 as a proof. Walter Breen's 1977 Proof Encyclopedia erroneously stated that "only one variety claimed to exist" and that was of the O-102 variant. This coin has long been known to the numismatic community, and Breen had his pedigrees confused in the encyclopedia. Breen also stated that five proofs of this date were known and that others may exist. The "others may exist" is a necessary out for the researcher, as new and surprising coins are constantly being found. As unlikely as it seems that "others may exist," that possibility was also acknowledged when David Akers wrote the description of this piece and listed the pedigrees of the three proof 1826 halves he was aware of. Those three specimen strikings are:
1. The present specimen, complete pedigree listed below.
2. 1997 ANA Sale (Heritage, 7/97), lot 6351, which brought $18,000. O-101.
Gilhousen III (Superior, 10/1/73), lot 930; Ruby III (Superior, 2/10/75), lot 696. O-102.
Proofs struck prior to the 1840s are often irregularly struck, have less-than-complete mirrors in the fields, or both. That is not the case with this coin. This exceptional coin shows striking definition and depth of mirrored reflectivity in the fields that is comparable to proofs struck 30 years later. Every line of the star centrils are complete, as are all of Liberty's hair curls, and the plumage on the eagle. The reflectivity in the fields is truly astonishing and simply must be viewed to be fully appreciated. A few light hairlines are seen on the fragile mirror surfaces, but a magnifier is required to see them. Both sides are mostly brilliant with a slight accent of golden-brown toning around the margins. A distinctive, diagonal rim-to-rim toning streak runs from 2 to 8 o'clock on the obverse. Simply outstanding quality and a very rare opportunity to acquire an early proof that truly "carries its own credentials."
Ex: Thomas Cleneay (Samuel and Henry Chapman, 12/9/1890), lot 1162; Colonel E.H.R. Green; Adolph Freidman Collection of Half Dollars / 1946 ANA (Abe Kosoff), lot 786; Gustav Lichtenfels Collection (Kreisberg-Schulman, 2/18/61), lot 2763, where it sold for $320; John Jay Pittman (Akers, 5/98), lot 1485, where it brought $63,250. (NGC ID# 27SF, PCGS# 6203)
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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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