Circulated 1838-O Half Dollar Rarity, PR451838-O 50C PR45 PCGS. A classic numismatic rarity, only about a dozen 1838-O half dollars are known in all grades, and opportunities to acquire an example are extremely limited. It is thought that just 20 proofs were coined to mark the initial operation of the New Orleans Mint. These coins were actually minted early in 1839, from one of the two die pairs received in New Orleans. At one time in the 19th century, it was actually thought that the 1838-O half dollars were actually die trials that were coined in Philadelphia, but such ideas were discounted when documentation was found from New Orleans coiner Rufus Tyler who stated that "not more than 20 pieces" were struck.
Survivors range from Choice proof down to lightly circulated, such as this piece, with details of a nice AU coin, but cleaned and recolored, now exhibiting a rich grayish color with traces of blue and gold. The surfaces have the usual small abrasions and minor hairlines, but they are far from "conspicuous" as described in the June 1988 Superior catalog of the Blevins and Bodway Collections.
Although today the marketplace is beginning to recognize the importance and rarity of this issue, it has not always been so. Approximately the same number of 1838-O half dollars, 1870-S Seated dollars, and 1894-S Barber dimes are known, but the latter two coins seem to realize higher prices. Perhaps the 1838-O half is an underrated sleeper in today's numismatic arena.
Ex: Col. E.H.R. Green; Anderson-Dupont sale (Stack's, 11/1954), lot 2104; Mr. Gottschalk; Federal Coin Exchange (1957 ANA sale), lot 1535A; "TAD" Collection (Stack's); Julian Leidman; Steve Ivy; Manfra, Tordella, and Brookes; Kagin's (1983 ANA), lot 2494; Mid-American (5/1985), lot 392; Kagin's (1986 ANA sale), lot 4657A; H.W Blevins (Superior, 6/1988), lot 3567; Bowers and Merena (3/1989), lot 2000; Vintage Auctions (8/1989), lot 202.
From The Yoder Family Collection, Part One. (NGC ID# 27SS, PCGS# 6226)
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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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