1827 O-121 Half Dollar, PR66
1827 50C PR66 PCGS Secure. CAC. O-121, High R.7 as a Proof.
Considerable verbiage over the years has addressed the number of
proof 1827 half dollars known, and today we are no closer to an
accurate census, although we may conclude the number is quite
small. In his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof
Coins, Walter Breen concluded that "at least four different
specimens exist, possibly as many as seven." Our own review of
auction records suggests a similar total population, including one
example of O-107, three to five examples of O-121, and possibly one
example of O-143, although notes in our roster will provide further
A 'Museum Quality' Specimen
Second-Finest of Just Five or Six Proofs Known
Proof strikes of any date or denomination prior to the steam press era that began in 1836 are great rarities, numismatic masterpieces that only appear in the finest cabinets. The present piece is one of those masterpieces that will see spirited bidding competition. Exhibiting a bold strike, this specimen has flawless, deep mirrored fields and delicate cameo contrast that is visible through its lovely gold and iridescent toning. We are unable to improve upon the words of David Akers in 1990: "If the expression 'museum quality' could be applied to any item in this sale, this would certainly be a prime candidate. It would be the centerpiece of the finest possible collection of U.S. coins."
Roster of Known Proof or Possible Proof 1827 Half Dollars
O-107. Just one PCGS certified example is known today, and it was plated in Breen's Proof Encyclopedia.
--PR64 PCGS. Lester Merkin (9/1967), lot 255; later, Heritage (8/2007), lot 1682. Identifiable as the plate coin by a slightly angling toning streak on the left side of the reverse.
O-121. Four different specimens have been described as proofs over the last three decades, including the present specimen, the second finest of those four coins.
--PR68 NGC. George H. Earle Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2927; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1831; Heritage (1/2004), lot 2078; Goldberg Coins (2/2006), lot 1468. The Eliasberg specimen is an undoubted proof strike, and far the finest known 1827 proof half dollar.
--PR66 PCGS. Auction '83 (Stack's, 7/1983), lot 690; Superior (1/1988), lot 1768; Auction '90 (David Akers, 8/1990), lot 1599; RARCOA and Akers (8/1991), lot 532. The present specimen, an undoubted Premium Gem proof.
--PR64 NGC. Heritage (6/2001), lot 2309; Heritage (11/2001), lot 5883
--PR64 (MS66 PCGS). Joseph J. Mickley; Reichardt and Reakirt Families; Columbus Stamp & Coin Co.; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3088; Bowers and Merena (5/1993), lot 293. Offered as a proof in the Norweb sale and the 1993 Bowers and Merena sale, this piece was certified as Mint State by PCGS.
O-143. Just one example has been called a proof in the past, but its proof status is open to some debate today.
--Possible Proof. Allenburger Sale (1948); McPherson Collection (1953); Charles A. Cass Collection; Empire Sale (Stack's, 11/1957); Stack's (10/1998), lot 356. Stack's cataloged this piece as a proof in 1957, although they hesitated to call it a proof in 1998, commenting: "There is little doubt that, as is the case with this piece, coins were on rare occasion struck in a manner which indicates a greater degree of care and special preparation. Whether the term 'proof' applies to such coins is open to some discussion." (NGC ID# 24G9, PCGS# 6205)
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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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