Superior 1908-S Half Eagle, MS67
1908-S $5 MS67 NGC. Another hit in the parade of finest
knowns (or nearly so), this 1908-S Indian half eagle is one of only
seven so graded at NGC, with none finer (10/10). PCGS has also
graded seven Superb Gems, although a single MS68 appears on the
online Population Report.
A Fully Struck Specimen
In general, the San Francisco branch Mint produced many high-quality coins during this era: Both the 1908-S and 1909-S Indian (and the 1909-S Lincoln) cents, for example--also first of their type to be struck at San Francisco--are noted for well-struck surfaces and high production quality overall. This is in notable contrast to the branch mints at New Orleans and to a lesser degree Denver, all of which were producing various coinage denominations during this period.
The Barber 1908-dated silver coinage from San Francisco is also generally well-struck, despite a few exceptions. However, with the greater importance of gold coins and the novelty of the new Bela Lyon Pratt design, it appears that the West Coast coiners may have taken particular care with the 1908-S half eagles. The mintage figure of 82,000 coins is the third-lowest of the series behind the 1909-O and 1911-D issues. Nonetheless, as Mike Fuljenz points out in Indian Gold Coins of the 20th Century:
"Despite this issue's low mintage and its relative rarity in all grades, it is actually among the most common Indian Head Half Eagles in higher grades. There are a surprising number of Gem and Superb Gem pieces known.
"The 1908-S is among the best struck San Francisco Half Eagles. Most examples show complete definition on both the obverse and reverse with strong feathers in the Indian's bonnet and bold wing and eagle detail on the eagle [sic]. The mintmark is well-defined and can typically be clearly seen even on lower grade examples."
The present Superb Gem conforms in every way to the description above, fully struck throughout (note the bold, square mintmark with serifs showing, comparable to the 1909-S cent mintmark), with complete definition on the eagle and all feathers in the headdress. The mattelike, fine-grained surfaces show color ranging from orange-gold to khaki-gold, and distracting marks are simply not a factor. Superior eye appeal, suited for a fine type or date set. Census: 7 in 67, 1 finer (10/10).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 65K3, PCGS# 8512)
Weight: 8.36 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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