Finest Certified Proof 1853 Half Dollar, PR661853 50C Arrows and Rays Half Dollar PR66 NGC. Ex: P. Kaufman. The finest known proof of the issue, and the only Premium Gem certified by NGC or PCGS. These two services have certified 10 proofs in all grades, including resubmissions. Those 10 grading events represent just three of the four or five proofs currently known. Almost 20 years have elapsed since this piece was offered in the Norweb sale. Once sold, another chance could be years or even decades away. Our Census of known specimens places this piece in top position.
PR66 NGC. The present specimen. Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3159; Kaufman Collection.
PR65 NGC. Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1956; Bowers (8/1999), lot 206; Goldberg Coins (2/2002), lot 1002; Heritage (5/2003), lot 6212; Heritage (7/2003), lot 7646; Heritage (9/2003), lot 7098; Heritage (2/2005), lot 7098.
PR63 NGC. J. Hewitt Judd Collection; Stack's (10/1990), lot 1651; Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 3/2005), lot 1795.
Proof. Reed Hawn Collection (Stack's, 8/1973), lot 178. Possibly the same as the Judd-Richmond example.
Proof. Smithsonian Institution.
Breen recorded two additional examples in his Proof Encyclopedia. One of these is the "N.Y. state specialist" (Pittman) coin, cataloged by David Akers as Mint State. The other is pedigreed to the Parmelee collection and described by Breen as a "badly cleaned piece" with a later pedigree to Stack's October 1956 sale of the Lohr collection. The plate in the Lohr catalog has many similarities to the Judd-Richmond specimen. Breen did not list the Reed Hawn coin or the Eliasberg proof.
The description of this piece in Bowers and Merena's Norweb catalog is inaccurate. Dave Bowers called it a "one-sided proof" and graded the reverse MS64. Our opinion, and that of NGC, is full proof status for this amazing coin. The obverse is fully mirrored and the reverse is satiny, suggesting that the planchet was not perfectly prepared. Normally, each planchet intended for a proof is highly polished, and both dies are also polished. The combination provides the deep mirrors found on proof coins, as well as cameo contrast. This example shows heavy reverse die polishing lines, proving that the actual coinage die was properly finished.
The appearance of the Kaufman Premium Gem is unmistakable. The obverse is fully mirrored with excellent cameo contrast, and the reverse has brilliant satin luster. The reverse design stands boldly against the field. It is a sharp strike with every detail, even the minute features, boldly and completely defined. The central obverse shows brilliant silver with faint champagne color, surrounded by reddish-brown, blue, and lilac toning at the borders. A small splash of brown toning crosses just below Liberty's neck, and positively identifies the pedigree of this piece. The reverse has deeper champagne color at the center, surrounded by peripheral russet and blue toning. Census: 1 in 66, 0 finer (7/07). (NGC ID# 27TU, PCGS# 6405)
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.
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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