Exceptional Gem Proof 1831 Bust Half, Ex: Samuel Chapman, Allenburger, Pittman1831 50C PR65 NGC. O-103, R.8 as a proof. Like the 1826 above, this piece is an unquestionable, deeply reflective proof striking. As David Akers wrote when he cataloged this coin in 1998: "It looks as much like a Proof as any high quality Proof Barber Half Dollar." The fields are glassy-smooth and deeply reflective. The striking details are fully brought up in all areas, including all the star radials, Liberty's hair curls, and the eagle's feathers. There is a series of parallel, shallow lines on the cheek of Liberty. At first they look like adjustment marks, but 1831 is much too late for this. We believe they are roller marks. Whatever they are, they certainly are Mint-made.
Breen's Proof Encyclopedia (1977) lists a number of coins that have been offered as a proof 1831 over the past 150 years. However, he concludes by stating that Wayte Raymond knew of only two. That number squares with the number of pieces certified, and it is also the number of coins Samuel Chapman knew of. The pedigrees listed in the Pittman catalog (and expanded on below) are:
1. The present specimen. The complete pedigree listed at the end of this description.
2. Auction '79, lot 155; Sixten Erling, Paramount International Coin Corp.'s Rare Coin List No. 12; private collector from Illinois.
The surfaces are marvelously clean for a proof striking from this time period and the only mentionable flaws, other than the Mint-made ones on the cheek of Liberty, are a thin staple scratch over the eagle's right (facing) wing, and a light scuff in the field above star 1. Generally brilliant throughout, there is just a bit of light golden color around the peripheries on each side. A rare opportunity to acquire what is undoubtedly one of the finest proof Bust halves as well as one of the rarest dates in proof format.
Ex: Samuel H. Chapman, as part of a complete proof set, one of only two complete sets known to him; to Dr. C.A. Allenburger; Allenburger Sale (Mehl, 3/23/48), lot 871, where it sold for $58.50 to John Jay Pittman; Pittman II (Akers, 5/98), lot 1495, where it brought $46,200. (NGC ID# 27SH, PCGS# 6210)
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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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