Rare PR63 1836 Reeded Edge Bust Half
    First U.S. Steam-Powered Coinage
    Fewer Than 20 Survive Today

    1836 50C Reeded Edge PR63 NGC. Steam power at the U.S. Mint ushered in the era of mass production and signaled the end of the Capped Bust, Lettered Edge half dollar series. Steam power not only changed the production of U.S. (and world) coinage; more importantly, it fueled (and enabled a proper medium of exchange for workers in) the great Industrial Revolution, beginning in Great Britain but spreading soon to the United States and Continental Europe.
    The lives and careers of Matthew Boulton and James Watt --who did not invent the steam engine, but refined its capabilities -- of the Soho Manufactory, near Birmingham, England, are documented in a fascinating volume by Richard G. Doty, The Soho Mint and the Industrialization of Money (1998). Doty points out that by the late 1780s, most of the "small money" in circulation was counterfeit, jeopardizing the future of the Industrial Revolution and the ability of factory workers to be paid. From the liner notes:

    "Matthew Boulton and his associates at Soho Manufactory met and defeated this threat by creating a battery of steam-powered machines which could mass-produce unforgeable copper coinage. The earnings of the labouring poor were safeguarded; the world's first industrial coinage was born."

    Doty goes on to say that the Soho Mint eventually began exporting replicas of itself to the far corners of the world, enabling the rest of the world to strike coins using the new steam power. The U.S. Mint was scheduled to strike its first tokens -- not coins -- on Feb. 22, 1836, but the demonstration was cancelled, and Mint Second Engraver Christian Gobrecht overdated the prepared dies from Feb. 22 to Mar. 23.
    The 1836 Capped Bust, Reeded Edge halves were the first U.S. circulating coinage struck using steam power. On Nov. 8, 1836, Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson sent 10 "specimens" (likely proofs) of the new steam-produced half dollars to Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury. He wrote that "the old [half dollar] coins were struck in what we term an open collar; this is struck in a close collar, which make the edges of pieces thicker, and gives a mathematical equality to their diameters."
    Lettered edges became a relic of the past, as the close collar would crush any edge lettering, as on certain 1833-35 Bust halves known with "crushed lettered edges."
    Judging by the certified populations today, it is likely that a few more "specimens" or proofs may have been struck later, but it appears that fewer than 20 proofs survive in all grades. This Select proof displays deeply reflective fields with the centers full on each side, but the peripheries are weak, as is the top of the eagle's right (facing) wing. Streaky gray, blue, and rose toning fails to dampen the reflective proof flash. Census: 4 in 63, 6 finer (11/11).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 27SM, PCGS# 6223)

    Weight: 13.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Cooper

    Fees, Shipping, and Handling Description: Coins & Currency (view shipping information)

    Sales Tax information  | NGC Coin Grading Guarantee  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2012
    3rd-8th Tuesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 445

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato

    The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato is the culmination of more than 10 years of research into the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series, one of the most coveted type coins in American numismatics and one about which remarkably little has been written.

    This work will be the premier reference for 1796-1797 half dollars for years to come. Institutions having an extensive numismatic library or coin cabinet will find it a valuable complement to their holdings, and catalogers charged with writing up specimens for auction can now have an indispensable source of background and pedigree information. Likewise, coin dealers seeking to purchase one or more '96 or '97 half dollars for a client or for inventory, and collectors who own, have owned, or desire to own one will want this important reference work for their libraries.

    Order Now! Just $59.95

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2018 April 20 - 24 CCE World Coins Signature Auction - Chicago.

    Learn about consigning with us

    You will never be ripped off, scammed, or knowingly sold fakes on Heritage's ongoing online coin auctions, and sometimes the deals are amazing! You can do price research, grade comparisons, you name it (heck, I could almost write a whole article about the ways to use Heritage's Web site!).
    Susan Headley
    Coin Host/Journalist,,
    New York, NY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2017 November 2 - 4 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas
    2017 November 2 - 4 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $9,915,667
    2017 September 7 - 12 Long Beach Expo World Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach
    2017 September 7 - 12 Long Beach Expo World Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach
    REALIZED $5,398,244
    2017 November 1 - 2 Eric P. Newman VIII Currency Signature Auction - Dallas
    2017 November 1 - 2 Eric P. Newman VIII Currency Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,987,881