Extremely Rare 1849 Proof Half Dollar1849 50C PR64 PCGS. Wiley and Bugert, in their 1993 reference The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars, indicate that, "At least 5 (1849 Seated Half Dollar Proofs) are known." In the writeup of the April 1997 Eliasberg Collection catalog, Bowers and Merena catalogers state that: "It has been our experience that the 1849 silver Proofs are among the greatest rarities of the decade, even more elusive than the 1848 (of which probably no more than seven or eight are known)....For some reason, silver Proofs of this year are notably rarer than the several years preceding." They go on to say that: "Doubtless, anyone attempting to acquire an unbroken sequence of Proof half dollars in the 1840s could lead an active multi-decade numismatic search with an unlimited checkbook and not achieve completion."
The suggested rarity of this issue is confirmed by the population reports. PCGS and NGC have each certified five examples as of August 2005. Some of these are likely resubmissions, which leads to the conclusion that Wiley and Bugert's estimate of five known specimens is probably on target. David Akers, in his May 1998 John J. Pittman Collection catalog, lists the known Proof 1849 half dollars:
1. the Pittman specimen; also from Paramount's 1967 Grand Central sale, lot 1017.
2. James A. Stack, lot 453.
3. John Work Garrett (1976), lot 214; also from Randall, lot 409.
4. Floyd Starr, lot 549; also from "World's Greatest Collection," lot 296.
5. Louis Eliasberg specimen.
The example we offer in this lot displays colorful cobalt-blue toning, which occurs mostly in the recessed areas, some yellow-gold and lavender around the rim areas, and light reddish-brown patination, mostly in the fields. The design elements are exquisitely struck, with no areas of weakness, and there is a noticeable contrast against the reflective fields. The surfaces are very well preserved, with no significant contact marks or unsightly spots. A small lint mark is located in the field just beneath the cap, and a miniscule contact mark is seen on Liberty's eyebrow, which serve to identify the piece. We compared the present coin with photos of 1849 proof half dollars that appeared in the Pittman, Eliasberg, and the Starr collections, and could not conclusively match it with any of those examples. Population: 3 in 64, 1 finer (8/05).
From The Ken Arnold Collection.(#6393) (NGC ID# 27TB, PCGS# 6393)
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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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