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Outstanding 1841 Half Dollar, PR641841 50C PR64 NGC. The 1841 half dollar in proof format is an extreme rarity. Indeed, NGC and PCGS combined have certified a mere seven examples. The former service has graded three PR64 coins and one PR65, while PCGS has seen one each in PR61, PR62, and PR63. Likewise, Bowers and Merena catalogers, in their description of the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. specimen in their April 1997 sale, wrote:
"Apparently about a half dozen Proofs are known, and quite possibly only four or five. Such pieces were mostly (but not entirely) issued as part of silver Proof sets in the year 1841, distributed to a very limited circle-probably not more than a dozen sets at best-and in the meantime widely dispersed. Later, as American numismatics became popular, a number of collectors desired to acquire Proofs of the 1840s, but most of this fascination was with half cents (which were rare in just about every account) and Proof Liberty Seated dollars. Generally, Proofs of the half dime, dime, quarter dollar, and half dollar were ignored or made in smaller quantities, and today these are far rarer than their dollar-sized cousins (which themselves are rare)."
Walter Breen, in his 1989 edition of Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, cites nine 1841 half dollar proofs, of which he says: " ... at least five ... are different, the rest probable duplications." Our own research accounts for what are likely eight separate examples:
1. PR65 NGC. James Kelly (privately, 1946); John Jay Pittman (David Akers, 10/1997, lot 1522); Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 3/2005), lot 1786; America Numismatic Rarities (9/2005), lot 413; Goldberg (2/2006), lot 1472.
2. PR64 NGC. The present coin. Superior (5/1990), lot 3803.
3. PR64 NGC. John G. Mills (S.H. and H. Chapman, 4/1904); J.M. Clapp; Clapp Estate (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate; Bowers and Merena, 4/1997, lot 1919.
4. PR62 PCGS. Dr. R.H. Wilson; 1952 ANA (New Netherlands), lot 310; Elliot Landau (New Netherlands, 52nd Sale, 12/1958), lot 575; Dr. James O. Sloss (Bowers and Merena, 1/1999), lot 1137.
5. PR62. Charles A. Cass; Empire Collection (Stack's, 11/1957), lot 1352; Reed Hawn (Stack's, 8/1973), lot 137; Auction '81 (RARCOA), lot 137; Auction '90 (Stack's), lot 210; Stack's (3/2007), lot 849.
6. PR61 PCGS. Bowers and Merena (7/2005), lot 550.
7. Proof. Smithsonian Institution.
8. Proof. American Numismatic Society (though Breen says "dubious, dies imperfectly polished").
Additional appearances that may or may not be duplicates of above:
A. Proof. David Golding (Stack's, 6/1952), lot 232.
B. Proof. Gustav Lichtenfels Collection (Kriesberg and Schulman, 2/1961), lot 2806. "Brilliant Proof. Sharp square edge. One of the very few in existence. Rare." Not plated.
C. Proof. Amwest (7/1981).
D. Proof. George H. Earle (H. Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2970.
Both sides of this near-Gem are awash in gorgeous low intensity toning. Splashes of steel-blue and orange-gold reside in the fields, while the central motifs display champagne-silver color imbued with traces of violet and sky-blue. The color differences are such that the fields highlight the devices, especially when the coin is tilted slightly under a light source. The powerful strike further enhances this variance, as all of the design elements exhibit full, razor-sharp detail. Rounding out the coin's already outstanding eye appeal are the impeccably preserved surfaces that are devoid of mentionable contact marks or hairlines. We point out a minute mark to the left of the D in the denomination solely for pedigree purposes.
Ex: The Boys Town Sale and other important properties (Superior Galleries, 5/1990), lot 3803.
From The Silbermünzen Collection. (NGC ID# 27T3, PCGS# 6385)
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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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