1854 50C Half Dollar PR66 NGC....
When Breen compiled his Proof Encyclopedia, just three specimens were recorded, with the comment that the half dollar is "about as rare as the quarter." Since he earlier said that the 1854 proof quarter is "about as rare as the dime," all three denominations were equally rare in his opinion. By 1988 he revised his opinion to state "probably fewer than 20 proofs survive" in his Complete Encyclopedia. Others suggest that about 10 to 12 survive, a seemingly realistic figure. The proof half dollar is slightly rarer than the dime and quarter, but the often reported figure of just five or six known is certainly too low.
While separated from Liberty's base and the border, the date and arrows are slightly above center in the exergue. The shield point is over the outer left curve of the 8, and 54 are extremely close but do not touch. Similar to Breen's description, but the stars do not have any extra outlines. No unusual reverse characteristics are noted, other than faint clash marks visible just inside the right shield border. Seated coins of various dates and denominations often show similar clash marks.
A wonderful Premium Gem proof with lovely light gold toning at the centers that gradually changes to russet, lilac, and blue near the borders. A slightly uneven strike is indicated by weakness at the upper obverse and lower reverse. The top of Liberty's head, stars 6 through 10, the eagle's left facing left, and the left claw all show weak definition. These strike characteristics are also seen on the Pittman and Starr proofs, and likely on all others. Census: 2 in 66, 0 finer (6/07).
Ex: J.M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate via Stack's (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1958.
From The Phil Kaufman Collection of Early Proof Sets, Part One. (#6407)
(NGC ID# 27TW, PCGS# 6407)
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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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