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    Description

    1908 Indian Half Eagle, PR67
    High-End Sandblast Proof Rarity
    Debut of Bela Lyon Pratt's Design

    1908 $5 PR67 NGC. JD-1, R.4. Proof half eagle coinage was dramatically altered in 1908 with the introduction of Bela Lyon Pratt's Indian Head design. The sunken relief of the models made the fields the recessed portion of the die, rather than the devices, prohibiting the Mint's normal practice of polishing the proof die fields with a buffer. To resolve the matter, and to continue a difference in production quality for proofs versus circulation coinage, the Mint introduced a sandblast finish similar to that which was popular on award medals of the period in the U.S. and Europe. In his authoritative reference, United States Proof Coins, Vol. IV: Gold, John Dannreuther writes:

    "The coins were first struck with specially prepared dies; afterwards, they were placed under a fine stream of sand while being held in a glove. The size and intensity of the blast determines the look of each coin, as the color and facets differ from year to year; sometimes, even coins in the same year have a different look."



    Although the sandblast finish is admired today, contemporary collectors were initially turned off by it, having expected the coins to be issued with the usual mirrored fields finish of years prior. A fairly substantial mintage of 167 proof 1908 Indian fives was produced, but the following year production plummeted, reflecting collector sentiment about the sandblast finish. Many of the 1908 proofs were poorly stored by their owners, resulting in a limited supply of high-grade pieces today.

    This Superb Gem example is within the Condition Census of 1908 matte proofs, and it is a great rarity in this grade. We have seen only a few examples in this condition within the last decade, attesting to the scarcity of such coins. Intricate strike sharpness is amplified by the sandblast finish, and the olive-gold luster is luminous beneath a light. Close inspection with a loupe fails to reveal any discernible flaws in the delicate matte finish. Census: 12 in 67, 1 finer (4/20).(Registry values: N10218)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 28E3, PCGS# 8539)

    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
    June, 2020
    4th-7th Thursday-Sunday
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