Marvelous 1814 Half, O-103, MS68 ★1814 50C MS68 ★ NGC. O-103, R.1. What a marvelously interesting piece of early numismatic Americana this piece is! Both dies had obviously seen a great deal of service by the time this wonderfully well preserved piece was struck--and that service has left many, many signs of use on both the dies and this coin.
First for the attribution: The second digit 1 is lower than the remaining digits and the 8 and that following 1 are much closer than the remaining digits, obvious diagnostics for this available variety. A series of parallel vertical thin die lines appears under the bust truncation, to the left of the date. On the reverse a thick die line connects the bottom of the scroll under E to the eagle's left (facing) wing.
This piece has many, many clashes, perhaps the most interesting of which are the "ear bars" from the clashing of the reverse shield on Liberty's hair curls and ear. While we have seen them more often on the O-105 and O-106 die marriages and have even occasionally seen them in a different position on the O-103, we do not recall seeing them in precisely this position on this die marriage, running at about a 45-degree angle from northwest to southeast.
The number of 1814-dated half dollars produced from all marriages was in excess of 1 million coins produced from a mere nine known die pairings, so it is unsurprising that the dies show their apparent capacity stretched to the limit.
The obverse shows multiple clashes, slightly off-center from each other, most notably between the date and the bust, behind the hair curls, and in the field before Liberty's face. On the reverse doubled clash marks appear beneath the BUS, under the arrowheads, and around D S in UNITED STATES.
Aside from the interesting die state, however, this coin is incredibly well struck and well preserved, despite the advanced state of both dies. There is literally no evidence of post-strike contact visible anywhere, and marvelous, glowing luster emanates liberally from both sides. The original toning is a blend of pink-champagne in the center with sky-blue at the rims; the reverse adds a tinge of sage at the extreme margin. The Star award for superior eye appeal is more than justified on this incredibly high-grade coin.
Stephen Herrman's current price guide lists three other pieces in MS67, but this piece in MS68 Star is obviously atop the Condition Census.
Ex: 1998 FUN (Heritage, 1/1998), lot 6887.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 24F3, PCGS# 6105)
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