1908 $5 PR67 NGC. JD-1, R.4. The debut of Bela Lyo...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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1908 Indian Head Five, PR67
1908 $5 PR67 NGC. JD-1, R.4. The debut of Bela Lyon Pratt's
Indian Head half eagle design in 1908 spurred the usual heightened
collector interest in proof coins for a new design's first year of
production. Collectors ordered 167 proof half eagles in 1908, all
of the new design -- a mintage greater than any previous proof half
eagle production since 1900. However, the new proofs were not as
well received by the public as the earlier Liberty Head issues
were. The sunken relief of Pratt's design prevented the Mint from
continuing its traditional polished fields/frosted devices method
of proof production, since the fields on Pratt's coinage were now
the recessed portions of the dies and could not be polished. To
remedy the issue, and to maintain a visual and quality distinction
between proofs and circulation strikes, the Mint introduced a matte
sandblast finish for proof half eagles in 1908. After a coin was
struck, it was held beneath a stream of fine sand for a period of
time to impart the finely granular surface texture commonly seen on
art and European medals of the era. Coin collectors, however,
expecting to see the usual bright, mirrored surfaces of prior
issues, were disappointed in the sandblast finish, and in 1909,
proof half eagle orders plummeted.
Condition Census First-Year Proof
A Major Rarity This Fine
The first-year 1908 proof survives today with a population that John Dannreuther estimates at 80 to 100 coins. Examples are highly sought-after in all grades and they are decidedly rare in Superb Gem condition. In recent years, only a couple of PR67 specimens have appeared in our auctions, and to our knowledge the only coin reported by NGC in PR68 has never been publicly offered.
The Simpson Superb Gem is within the Condition Census of proof 1908 half eagles. Design elements yield razor-sharp definition amid virtually flawless preservation of the olive-gold matte luster. Visual appeal is exceptional. As one of the finest-known examples of this scarce first-year proof issue, this piece is sure to meet unparalleled collector demand when it crosses the auction block. Census: 12 in 67, 1 finer (6/20).
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.
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