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    1827 Bust Half Dollar, PR66
    A 'Museum Quality' Specimen
    Third-Finest of Just Seven or Eight Proofs Known

    1827 50C PR66 PCGS Secure. CAC. O-121, R.7 as a proof. Considerable verbiage over the years has addressed the number of proof 1827 half dollars known, and today we are no closer to an accurate census, although we may conclude the number is quite small. In his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, Walter Breen concluded that "at least four different specimens exist, possibly as many as seven." Our own review of auction records suggests a similar total population, including one example of O-107, six examples of O-121, and possibly one example of O-143, although notes in our roster will provide further details.

    Proof strikes of any date or denomination prior to the steam press era that began in 1836 are great rarities, numismatic masterpieces that only appear in the finest collections. The present piece is one of those masterpieces that will see spirited competition. Boldly struck, this specimen has flawless, deep-mirrored fields and delicate cameo contrast that is visible through its lovely gold and iridescent toning. We are unable to improve upon the words of David Akers in 1990: "If the expression 'museum quality' could be applied to any item in this sale, this would certainly be a prime candidate. It would be the centerpiece of the finest possible collection of U.S. coins." Population: 1 in 66, 1 finer. CAC: 1 in 66, 1 finer (4/18).

    Roster of Known Proof or Possible Proof 1827 Half Dollars
    Just one PCGS certified example is known today, and it was plated in Breen's Proof Encyclopedia.

    --PR64 PCGS. Public Auction Sale (Lester Merkin, 9/1967), lot 255; later, Milwaukee Signature (Heritage, 8/2007), lot 1682. Identifiable as the plate coin by a slightly angled toning streak on the left side of the reverse.

    Six different specimens have been described as proofs over the last three decades, including the present example, the third finest of those six coins.

    --PR67 PCGS. George H. Earle Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2927; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1831; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 2078; Pre-Long Beach Sale (Goldberg Auctions, 2/2006), lot 1468, as PR68 NGC; D. Brent Pogue; Pogue Collection, Part III (Stack's Bowers, 2/2016), lot 3062, realized $258,500.

    --PR66 Cameo PCGS. Joseph J. Mickley Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), lot 1706; "Reakert" or Reakirt Families; Reakirt Collection (Columbus Stamp & Coin Co., 3/1963); Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3088; Stetson University Collection (Bowers and Merena (5/1993), lot 293.

    --PR66 PCGS. Auction '83 (Stack's, 7/1983), lot 690; A. Bernard Shore Collection (Superior, 1/1988), lot 1768; Auction '90 (David Akers, 8/1990), lot 1599; Chicago Sale (RARCOA and Akers, 8/1991), lot 532; Chicago Signature (Heritage, 8/2011), lot 7157, where it brought $161,000; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2013), lot 5633, realized $158,625. The present specimen, an undoubted Premium Gem proof.

    --PR64 NGC. Exclusively Internet Auction (Heritage, 6/2001), lot 2309; Santa Clara Signature (Heritage (11/2001), lot 5883 (this may be the coin graded PR65 Cameo on the NGC Census today).
    --PR63 PCGS.
    An example photographed on the PCGS website from the Coinbert Collection.

    --PR63 PCGS. Discovered in recent times in the holdings of a European noble family whose ancestor acquired it in the mid-19th century; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 9/2013), lot 6432; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2017), lot 4047, as PR62 NGC.

    O-143. Just one example has been called a proof in the past, but its proof status is open to some debate today.

    --Possible Proof. Allenburger Sale (B. Max Mehl, 3/1948), lot 831; R.T. McPherson Collection (Stack's, 2/1953), lot 870; Empire Collection (Stack's, 11/1957), lot 1323; 63rd Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/1998), lot 356. Stack's cataloged this piece as a proof in 1957, although they hesitated to call it a proof in 1998, commenting: "There is little doubt that, as is the case with this piece, coins were on rare occasion struck in a manner which indicates a greater degree of care and special preparation. Whether the term 'proof' applies to such coins is open to some discussion."
    From The Jim O'Neal Collection of Proof Type Half Dollars. (NGC ID# 24G9, PCGS# 6205)

    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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    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.

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