Ex: Kaufman 1839 No Drapery Half, PR62
1839 50C No Drapery PR62 NGC. Ex: P. Kaufman. To the best of
our knowledge, the Kaufman 1839 No Drapery proof half dollar is one
of only three pieces known. We trace its provenance to F.C.C. Boyd
and World's Greatest Collection. It appears to be the only late die
state example, with a bisecting reverse crack that is unseen on the
other two examples.
One of Only Three Proofs Believed Known
All three known 1839 No Drapery proof half dollars appear to have a crack extending through the outer parts of MERICA and HALF DOL, continuing to a point below the left (facing) wing (an interesting question that arises here is why the Mint would use a cracked reverse die to strike proofs), and the proofs have several other characteristics that distinguish them. The Kaufman coin is identified by the following: an additional bisecting crack from the reverse rim at 7 o'clock that travels through the leaf and eagle's left (facing) leg, the lower shield, middle of the left wing, to the right foot of the R in AMERICA; and a heavy clash mark within the lower right reverse shield.
A second example, the Hawn specimen, is easily distinguished by a spot over the right upright of the N in UNITED. It also lacks the bisecting reverse crack. That piece most recently appeared in our January 2007 FUN sale, lot 988. Additionally, its pedigree can be traced to the Stack's August 1973 sale of the Reed Hawn Collection, lot 125, and it has appeared in several sales during the last 10 years.
The third 1839 No Drapery half dollar appeared in the October 1996 Stack's sale, lot 300. A small chip out of the edge above first S of STATES identifies it.
The three known examples of this proof rarity are:
1. PR64 PCGS. Reed Hawn (Stack's, 8.1973), lot 125; Bowers and Merena (8/1999), lot 199; Goldberg Coins (2.2001), lot 1752; 2002 ANA Sale (Superior), lot 973; Heritage (1/2004), lot 5941; Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 3/2005); Heritage (1/2007), lot 988.
2. PR62 NGC. F.C.C. Boyd (World's Greatest Collection, Numismatic Gallery, 4/1945), lot 246; 1946 ANA (Abe Kosoff), lot 812; Stack's (3/1965), lot 440; 1976 ANA (Stack's, 8/1976), lot 1172; Stack's (12/1985), lot 942; Worrell Collection (Superior, 9/1993), lot 712.
3. Proof. Stack's (10/1996), lot 300. Unknown previous pedigree.
A. PR63 PCGS. Heritage (9/2002), lot 13257; Heritage (12/2002), lot 19261.
B. Will W. Neil (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 474.
C. 1948 ANA, lot 1766.
The Kaufman coin, with the additional bisecting reverse crack and the reverse clash mark, was likely the last of the three 1839 No Drapery proof half dollars to be struck.
Several additional attributes stand out on the Kaufman coin that are sure to draw the attention of the Seated Liberty proof aficionado. It possesses delightful field-motif contrast, regardless of the angle from which it is viewed. While not designated a Cameo on the NGC holder, deeply mirrored fields highlight the frosty devices. The rims are bold and squared off, and exhibit fully struck dentilation. An impressive strike provides complete definition on the design features that appears to further accentuate the contrast with the fields. Brilliant fields display barely discernible wisps of sky-blue and gold-tan color under magnification, slightly more so on the obverse. A scattering of inoffensive contact marks and some faint hairlines in the fields are all that preclude the achievement of a significantly higher grade. Indeed, this imposing PR62 coin has fewer marks than seen on many finer-graded pieces. (NGC ID# 27SZ, PCGS# 6381)
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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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