1826 O-104 Bust Half, MS66 ★
    Transitional Die State
    Deeply Mirrored Obverse

    1826 50C MS66 ★ NGC. O-104, R.3. Described as an O-104a on the NGC insert, but more accurately a transitional die state. The obverse of this transitional die state has a die crack that begins at the edge near the bust point, and continues through the outer points of stars 1 through 4. Another crack connects the inner points of stars 4 through 6, before jogging back to the outer point of star 7. A few flowlines are evident on the obverse, suggesting a later die state. The reverse has a delicate crack from the border below 50 to the bottom of the C and the period, just missing the point of the lowest arrow, and back to the border at the middle arrow. There is no evidence of the later reverse die crack through the base of ERICA.

    The obverse was created early in 1826 while the reverse die was carried over from the previous year, appearing on 1825 O-117. The combination of the low Overton number and the reuse of a die from the previous year suggests that this piece was likely coined fairly early in the year. The obverse is fully mirrored and prooflike, suggesting a coin that was made for a special purpose, perhaps for some sort of presentation set, although it is clearly not a one-sided proof. Proof examples of 1826 half dollars only exist for O-101 and O-102.

    While it is impossible to suggest that this piece was made for presentation at some historical event, the year 1826 had its share of circumstances. The American Temperance Society was founded that year in Boston. That was also the year that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died, both on July 4, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Adams was the father of John Quincy Adams, who was serving as president when his father died. Songwriter Stephen Foster was born that same day.

    The strike is remarkably bold, and the fields are immensely lustrous beneath captivating waves of gold, cerulean, and peach patina, over fully mirrored obverse fields and lustrous devices. The reverse has similar toning over frosty mint luster. Easily one of the finest representatives from this issue of just over 4 million 1826 half dollars. Across all die varieties, NGC has graded just five numerically finer pieces (6/13). Although the Overton reference lists a single MS67 specimen for this variety, this Premium Gem is likely the finest survivor of the O-104 die pair, and it is the only MS66 specimen that Stephen Herrman records in his auction analysis for the variety.

    The deeply mirrored obverse suggests special treatment within the Mint when this coin was struck. One side of the planchet may have been polished with the intent of producing a coin with the mirrored obverse for some special presentation. Although there is no evidence of multiple strikes as expected on a true proof, this piece was clearly made in a special manner. The fact that no other examples of O-104 have been seen with such a mirrored surface indicates the special nature of this piece. Except for the splendid toning, this piece looks today exactly as it must have looked when it was struck and it was likely never intended for actual commercial use.
    Ex: ANA Signature (Heritage, 7/2008), lot 1681.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 24FM, PCGS# 6143)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    August, 2013
    8th-10th Thursday-Saturday
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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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