Extremely Rare 1834 Gem Proof Half Dime1834 H10C PR65 NGC. V-4, V-4, LM-4, High R.6. Although many numismatists may not recognize it as such, this is one of the rarest coins in this sale. It is also among the most intriguing. We have spent considerable time examining photos and dissecting descriptions of the proof 1834 Valentine-4 Half Dimes that sold in recent auctions. This study helped us to settle on a striking sequence for the proofs of this die marriage. The Floyd T. Starr (Stack's, 10/1992, lot 321, where it realized $16,500) and John Jay Pittman (Akers, 10/1997, lot 443, where it realized $23,100) specimens were among the first coins produced from these dies. The top of the N in UNITED is not filled, and there is no evidence of the obverse die crack over Liberty's cheek and before the throat. The following coins are also examples of this die state:
1. Ex: Whitney P. Sunderland Collection (Bowers and Merena, 3/1994), lot 1006, where it realized $20,900. A PR65 PCGS specimen.
2. Ex: Detroit ANA Signature Sale (Heritage, 7/1994), lot 6350, where it realized $20,185; Rarities Sale--The Long Beach Connoisseur Collection (Bowers and Merena, 8/1999), lot 81, where it realized $21,850. Certified PR65 by PCGS at the time of the former sale and upgraded to PR66 at NGC prior to the latter auction.
The dies had advanced to a later state when the present example was struck with the obverse crack and reverse break in the top of the N. We are aware of only one other proof 1834 Half Dime of the V-4 variety that was struck from this later die state, and it is the coin that sold as lot 156 in our June 1989 Dallas Auction, and then again as lot 162 in our October 1989 Long Beach Sale. It seems likely that the Mint used these dies for a press run of business strikes after the Starr, Pittman, Sunderland, and 1994 Detroit ANA specimens were produced, during which time the top of the N became filled and the obverse die cracked. In order to strike a few more proofs, Mint employees simply repolished the dies and inserted them back into the press. It was at this time that the present coin was produced.
No more than 15 proof 1834 Capped Bust Half Dimes are believed extant, most of which are of either the early or late state of the Valentine-4 die marriage. This coin is richly toned in charcoal-gray shades with dappled cobalt-blue, gold, and champagne-lilac undertones. Unmistakable as a proof, the devices exhibit razor sharp striking definition over all features save for the eagle's left (facing) shoulder feathers, and the rims are crisp with full denticles in all but one or two isolated areas. The fields are also noticeably reflective, and there is reverse shelf doubling on several letters in the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and (most conspicuously) on the denomination 5C. The latter feature indicates that the die was loose in the press at the time of striking. A few small contact marks in the right obverse field are the only worthwhile pedigree markers. (#4297) (NGC ID# 232L, PCGS# 4297)
Weight: 1.35 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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