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Extremely Rare 1839 No Drapery Half, PR64 PCGS

1839 50C No Drapery PR64 PCGS. Proof examples of the 1839 half dollar were allegedly struck on August 13, 1839. One proof and one business strike were sent by Mint Director Patterson to the Secretary of Treasury and were distinguished as special strikings in a letter between the two officials even though the word "proof" was not used. Whether one believes there are 3-4 proofs known of this issue or "less than 6," as Wiley and Bugert state, the fact is this is an extreme rarity.
There are a couple of curious attributes on all proof 1839 halves, and this coin in particular. First, all are struck from a reverse die that shows a die crack of considerable length on the lower reverse. Some are struck from an even later state of the reverse die and display a bisecting crack by the lowest olive leaf that continues to the R in AMERICA and the rim. However, this particular coin does not display that second crack, and it was the opinion of the cataloger at Bowers in August 1999 that this particular coin (the Reed Hawn specimen) is the only proof that does not show the second, bisecting crack. A second curiosity is what appears to be partial drapery below Liberty's elbow. This was not mentioned in the Rarities Sale from 1999, but we feel compelled to do so as it is quite obvious. While it appears at first glance that this is a Partial Drapery coin and the drapery has been mostly effaced, this cannot be as No Drapery coins are diagnostically different from Drapery halves of 1839. On No Drapery coins, the most obvious difference is the positioning of the rock relative to star 1: it is much closer on the No Drapery halves, and considerably farther apart on the With Drapery pieces. Then what is it that is seen just below Liberty's elbow? We believe it is light die clashing from the reverse, perhaps the faint impression of a feather from the eagle that was not polished away prior to striking.
The coin itself has deeply reflective fields and it is obviously a proof striking even though heavily toned. The devices show pinpoint striking definition, obviously having been struck multiple times to bring up the details seen here. Each side is covered with rich blue, slate-gray, and citrine toning with slight evidence of underlying hairlines from an old cleaning. Easily distinguished for pedigree purposes by a spot over the right side of the N in UNITED on the reverse. While it is pure speculation, it is possible that the lack of the second die crack on this coin could indicate this is the very coin Robert Maskell Patterson sent to the Secretary of the Treasury in 1839.
Ex: Reed Hawn Collection (Stack's, 1973), lot 125; Long Beach Connoisseur Collection (Bowers); Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/99), lot 200. (NGC ID# 27SZ, PCGS# 6381)

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Auction Dates
January, 2007
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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato

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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