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Curious 1856 Half Dollar, PR66

1856 50C Half Dollar PR66 NGC. Ex: P. Kaufman. Although NGC has certified two finer proofs, the resubmission factor may account for one of these. The Kaufman specimen is probably the second finest known proof half dollar of the date. Only about 25 proof 1856 half dollars survive, the rarest Seated denomination of the year. In 1977, Breen stated that about 14 of these exist, raising the total to 20 to 25 in his Complete Encyclopedia. Wiley and Bugert, Dave Bowers, and Dave Akers all reported similar populations in later years. Most of the survivors are in lower numeric grades.
The date is minutely left of center with the shield point over the left curves of the 8. The lower right curve of the 6 is doubled outside, and that digit is low, leaning slightly to the right. Short diagonal file marks at the dentil tips below the 1 extend for several dentils to the left. Star 13 points to a tiny oval die chip in the right field, seen on all proofs that we have examined.
The second and third elements of the first vertical stripe extend to the third crossbar. The top part of all three elements in this stripe are thin and shallow, as if they were not hubbed into the die but finished by hand. The third element of stripes three and five fail to meet the lower shield border. Breen wrote in his Proof Encyclopedia that some examples have a the top of the first stripe entirely hollow. In the Eliasberg catalog, Dave Bowers took this a step further and specifically identified Lot 344 in the November 1979 Garrett sale as just such an example. However, careful study of both the color and black and white illustrations in that catalog reveal traces of the vertical lines through this area. The same reverse die was carried over for the 1857 proof half dollars.
All details are complete and full, exactly as they appeared in the dies. Pristine surfaces are free of defects with deep mirrors and frosty devices. Like many proofs of the era, cameo contrast is subdued by moderate to deep toning. Both sides of this Premium Gem have light reddish-gold toning on the devices, framed by pale lilac-gray and electric-blue. Census: 2 in 66, 2 finer (6/07).
From The Phil Kaufman Collection of Early Proof Sets, Part One.
(NGC ID# 27TF, PCGS# 6410)

View all of [The Phil Kaufman Collection of Early Proof Sets, Part One ]

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August, 2007
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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato

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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