Impressive 1839 No Drapery Half, PR64
1839 50C No Drapery PR64 PCGS. CAC. When Walter Breen
compiled his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof
Coins in 1977, he believed that just three examples of the
proof 1839 No Drapery half dollar existed. He enumerated the Reed
Hawn and F.C.C. Boyd coins, numbers 2 and 3 in our list below, and
also stated that an example was in the Norweb Collection. However,
the Norweb coin in the sale of their collection graded just AU50
and was clearly not a proof, meaning only two of Breen's recorded
examples were actual proofs. A third example was offered in the
Stack's October 1996 sale (our number 5), with no prior provenance,
and the present example (our number 1 and probably the finest of
the five) is a fourth, apparently also with no prior provenance
unless it is the Neil coin that has is untraced since 1948. We
believe that a fifth proof example (number 4 in our roster) is the
coin that we offered in our September and December Internet
auctions, apparently different from all the others, although our
archive illustration of that coin is somewhat muted and hard to
Believed the Finest Known Proof
All known proof 1839 No Drapery half dollars have a fine die crack through HALF DOL and MERICA. The obverse of this piece has faint clash marks visible below Liberty's elbow. The reverse also has faint clash marks within the vertical shield spaces. The middle lines of stripes 3, 4, and 6 extend upward into the horizontal crossbars. This die was later used for business strikes, with a second crack from below the olive leaves through the shield to the R in AMERICA.
An impressive Choice proof, this piece has pale gold toning at the centers with violet and sea-green at the borders. Both sides are impeccably sharp, with fully mirrored fields and lustrous devices. A small lint mark inside star 12 and a few faint hairlines are evident on the obverse. The reverse also has minor hairlines. Aside from the die cracks described above, there are no die markers to distinguish proofs from prooflike business strikes.
1. PR64 PCGS. Different from 2-5, below, but it is possibly the 1948 ANA example. The present specimen.
2. 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.
3. 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; Phil Kaufman Collection (Heritage, 4/2008), lot 2376.
4. PR63 PCGS. Heritage (9/2002), lot 13257; Heritage (12/2002), lot 19261.
5. Proof. Stack's (10/1996), lot 300. Unknown previous pedigree.
Will W. Neil (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 474; 1948 ANA, lot 1766.
From The Findley Collection.
See: Video Lot Description (NGC ID# 27SZ, PCGS# 6381)
View all of [The Findley Collection ]
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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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