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    1913-S Indian Half Eagle, Historic MS66
    Ex: Price, O'Neal
    Top of the Condition Census

    1913-S $5 MS66 PCGS. Ex: Simpson. Despite a mintage of 408,000 pieces, the 1913-S Indian half eagle has long stood as one of the great condition rarities of the series. This issue circulated domestically, and most of the surviving population resides in XF or AU condition. Mint State pieces are mainly seen in MS60 to MS62. Select and Choice examples make only occasional appearances at auction, and in MS65 or better this date is a major rarity, as Fuljenz and other specialists note. In fact, only five coins are reported in Gem or better condition by PCGS and NGC combined. PCGS reports a single MS65 and the present MS66, and NGC lists one MS65 and two MS66s (5/20). Of these, only the two MS65s and the PCGS MS66 have ever made public auction appearances, and only the two PCGS coins have appeared within the last decade. Garrett and Guth's assessment of the this issue as "the sixth most difficult coin of the series to locate in higher grades" may not fully represent the rarity of the 1913-S at the Condition Census level.

    We are privileged to be able to offer the MS66 PCGS coin here. When David Akers offered this coin in the 1998 Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection sale, he called it "the second finest example of this issue that I have seen, surpassed only by the incredible Dr. Steven Duckor specimen I sold with his Indian Head Half Eagle collection in Auction '90." The Duckor coin was raw when it appeared in Auction '90, but it has since been certified MS65 PCGS. Thus, according to strict modern grading standards, this piece is finer than the Duckor coin. It is challenged in its claim to "finest known" only by the two MS66 listings at NGC. However, neither NGC MS66 has ever been offered at auction, which makes one wonder whether or not one or both of those listings are merely duplications. When David Akers revised his Handbook, he recorded the 1999 auction appearance of this coin as the only MS66 coin in his record of Significant Examples. A roster of the finest specimens includes just two coins, the Duckor piece and the Price specimen. The Duckor coin is currently housed in the D.L. Hansen Registry Set, while the Price coin is offered here. Moreover, Akers wrote in 1998 that within the surviving 1913-S population only "three or four" coins had a legitimate claim to Gem status. If the three Gem or better coins that have been recorded at auction are in fact the whole of the Condition Census, than the present coin is the clear finest.

    In the Price catalog, Akers wrote:

    "This remarkable specimen was acquired from an old-time collection that was assembled in the 1930's and 1940's and, until purchased by Dr. Price, it had been off the market for more than 40 years. As such, it has not even been seen by the current generation of numismatists and dealers."

    The 1913-S half eagle is typically seen poorly struck, but the Price coin sets itself apart with remarkably strong detail throughout. A loupe reveals only a few trivial surface marks and hairlines, all consistent with the grade, and the fields yield lovely orange and yellow-gold luster. The mintmark is a trifle weak, but it is still completely visible and actually looks like an S, rather than the obscure "blob" of metal seen on most specimens.

    In the 1999 auction appearance of this piece, the cataloger described it with a single word: Incredible. In the Price catalog, Akers wrote, "This is an extraordinary coin that will be of tremendous interest to the specialists in this exceedingly difficult series." That statement rang true in 2013 -- the last time this piece appeared at auction -- when it realized more than $258,000, breaking its own record as the most valuable 1913-S half eagle ever auctioned. As a highlight of the Simpson collection of Indian half eagles, it has the potential to break its own record yet again in this offering.
    Ex: An old-time collection; Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 32; Bowers and Merena (1/1999), lot 1447; Jim O'Neal Collection of $5 Indians / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5149; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2013), lot 5888.(Registry values: N14284)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 25ZP, PCGS# 8526)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2020
    17th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,162

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    The pre-sale publicity was more than I imagined, and the actual catalog better than I had expected - and my expectations were high!
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    Jim Beasley, Tilden Coin Company,
    Allamonte Springs, FL
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