Magnificent 1845 Half Dollar, PR641845 50C PR64 NGC. The 1845 proof half dollar is one of the more significant rarities in American numismatics. A sparse four coins have been certified by NGC and PCGS. NGC has seen a PR66 and two PR64's, one of which we describe below. The PCGS example is a PR63.
Discussing the 1845 half dollar in their Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars, Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert say that less than six proofs are known. Walter Breen, in his Proof Encyclopedia, cites three separate 1845 proof half dollar appearances, and goes on to say: "Two others seen, so badly cleaned as to render their original proof status dubious."
As part of his cataloging for the May 1998 John Jay Pittman sale, David Akers writes:
"The 1845 Half Dollar in Proof is one of the great Liberty Seated Proof rarities of the 1840's. It is the rarest silver denomination of this year and it is also one of the two rarest Proof Half dollars of the decade along with the 1840. All 1845 silver denominations, except the Silver Dollar, were struck in Proof only for inclusion in the 10-15 Proof sets issued that year. I have been able to confirm the existence of only four distinct examples of the Half Dollar but, of course, it is always possible that one or more additional specimens exist."
Our research adds one more known 1845 proof half dollar, illustrated in the following roster:
1. PR66 NGC. James Kelly (1946); John Jay Pittman (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1711, as part of a complete 1845 proof set; 2008 FUN Sale (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3031.
2. PR64 NGC. The present coin. Stack's (3/1965), lot 447; Superior Galleries (10/1990), lot 3662. Possibly earlier from the World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 4/1945), lot 273.
3. PR63 PCGS. Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1929; Phil Kaufman; Bowers and Merena (1/1999), lot 1142; Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 3/2005), lot 1789; American Numismatic Rarities (6/2006), lot 1487.
4. Proof. New England (7/1978)
5. Proof. Smithsonian Institution.
A. Proof. RARCOA (1/1973), lot 872
A delicate blend of steel-blue and beige-gold patination concentrates in the fields of this near-Gem specimen, accentuating the silvery central devices, irrespective of the angle from which the coin is viewed. Moreover, an attentive strike results in sharp definition on the mildly frosted design elements, further heightening the field-motif contrast. Three or four inoffensive contact marks above the eagle's neck and right (facing) wing might aid in the coin's identification for future catalogers and researchers, and some unobtrusive, localized hairlines in the fields just barely prevent Gem classification. All in all, a truly magnificent and possibly conservatively graded piece.
Ex: October 1990 Sale (Superior, 10/1990), lot 3662.
From The Silbermünzen Collection. (NGC ID# 27T7, PCGS# 6389)
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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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