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The Pittman Proof 1840 Half Dollar, PR651840 50C Small Letters Half Dollar PR65 NGC. Ex: Pittman/Kaufman. The Pittman-Kaufman coin is the only certified Gem proof we have seen. The Norweb coin is the only other example with claims to Gem status, but remains uncertified to our knowledge.
David Akers was only aware of four proofs in 1998, the first four listed in our Census. He was not aware of the fifth coin that had not been offered at the time. We are aware of five proofs that have been offered in recent years, and doubt that any others exist. Our Census is nearly identical to the listing in Stack's sale of the George Byers Collection:
1. PR65 NGC. The present coin. James Kelly (1946, privately); John Jay Pittman (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1519.
2. PR65. Gustav Lichtenfels (Kreisberg and Schulman, 2/1961), lot 2801; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3125.
3. PR63 NGC. Reed Hawn (Stack's, 8/1973), lot 128; Hain Family (Stack's, 1/2002), lot 1452; Heritage Internet (9/2002), lot 11477.
4. Proof. Allenburger Collection (B. Max Mehl, 3/1948), lot 982; Floyd Starr (Stack's, 10/1992), lot 547.
5. PR60 PCI. Superior (9/1999), lot 1277; George Byers (Stack's, 10/2006), lot 1116.
In addition to these five, three other pieces have not been matched to any above:
A. PR65 PCGS. Listed on the PCGS Population Report, and probably one of the pieces listed above.
B. PR64 NGC. Heritage Internet (5/2002), lot 15319. Possibly the Norweb piece or the Starr specimen.
C. PR60. Bowers and Merena (5/1995), lot 1105.
The Small Letters reverse was used to coin all 1840 half dollars at the Philadelphia Mint. Medium Letters pieces without a mintmark were actually used in New Orleans. The obverse has raised circular lines within the central device, remnants of the die making process, and present on all known proofs. Most of the vertical shield lines on the reverse extend upward through some or all of the crossbars. Die cracks and clash marks do not appear on either side of this piece.
Sharp design details are evident, except for characteristic weakness on the eagle's left leg and talon, as always on these proofs. The mirrored fields are full and deep around fully lustrous devices. Mentioning the few faint hairlines and other tiny imperfections is unnecessary, as they are hidden beneath gorgeous lilac and steel-blue across both sides, accented by subtle iridescent toning. Census: 2 in 65, 0 finer (6/07).
From The Phil Kaufman Collection of Early Proof Sets, Part One. (#6384)
(NGC ID# 27T2, PCGS# 6384)
View all of [The Phil Kaufman Collection of Early Proof Sets, Part One ]
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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.
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