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1831 Original Half Cent, C-1, B-1, PR60 Brown
Controversial Issue, Ex: Norweb

1831 1/2 C PR60 Brown PCGS. C-1, B-1, R.6. No die states are recorded in Walter Breen's Half Cent Encyclopedia or in Ronald Manley's The Half Cent Die State Book.

The present piece from the Norweb Collection was graded AU55, prooflike, in that catalog. Walter Breen listed the coin as first in his Condition Census of business strikes, the only AU example known. The surfaces show a few light lines that appear to be the result of harmless camel-hair brushing in conjunction with a coin preservative. This piece is boldly detailed with satiny medium brown and emerald surfaces, along with iridescent overtones. A darker area at 10 o'clock on the obverse extends to the edge. In 1987, Bowers and Merena described this piece in the Norweb catalog as: "AU-55, prooflike. Earlier considered by some observers, including Mrs. Norweb, to be a Proof, and inventoried as such in the Norweb Collection. This is the piece listed by Walter Breen in his Condition Census as the finest known business strike original 1831 half cent."

Today, many believe that all 1831 half cents were struck as proofs. Mint records indicate a production of 2,200 half cents in 1831, suggesting that some may have been coined as business strikes. Historically, the 1831 half cents have been called a proof-only issue. In 1971 Roger S. Cohen, Jr., wrote: "For many years coin catalogues had the erroneous notation 'Proof only' for this date, and some continue to perpetuate this error. Walter Breen was the first person to my knowledge to point out that both business strikes and proofs were struck from these dies."

The jury is still out regarding the true status of these coins. Manley, Rick Coleman, and Frank Wilkinson each submitted articles to Penny-Wise in the late 1990s, debating the status of business strike versus proof 1831 half cents. Ebenezer Gilbert, Manley, and Coleman consider all 1831 half cents to be proof-only issues. Meanwhile, Breen, Cohen, and Wilkinson all support the existence of business strikes. Interested collectors should review those articles. In 1998 Manley wrote: "I am unconvinced that any 1831 Originals were intentionally struck as business strikes. Although this variety has historically been considered a proof-only issue, its current status as such is controversial." Our EAC grade PR60.
Ex: Thomas Elder (privately, 10/17/1908); Albert Fairchild Holden; Emery May Holden Norweb; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 78; Palm Beach Signature (Heritage, 7/2009), lot 59, where it brought $69,000.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part V.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 796A, PCGS# 1186)

View all of [The Greensboro Collection, Part V ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2014
8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
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