1839 With Drapery Half Dollar, PR64
1839 50C Drapery PR64 NGC. The rarity of the 1839 proof With
Drapery half dollar is attested to by the solitary example
certified by either NGC or PCGS -- this NGC-graded PR64 coin out of
the John Jay Pittman and the Phil Kaufman collections. A second
proof was reportedly part of the Norweb Collection (Breen
incorrectly called it No Drapery), sold to the family by Hollinbeck
Coin Company, but that piece turned out to be a prooflike example
and not a true proof.
The Sole Proof Striking
Very little reference to this issue is found in the numismatic literature, and what does appear is cryptic. In their Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars, Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert indicate that the With Drapery variety is unknown, obviously unaware of the Pittman-Kaufman example. Walter Breen, in his 1989 proof Encyclopedia only says "extra fold of drapery at elbow. Menjou:15, possibly reappearing as Lichtenfels I:2799. Unverified." Abe Kosoff sold the Menjou Collection in June 1950, and Abner Kreisberg joined with Hans Schulman to sell the Lichtenfels Collection in February 1961.
David Akers, in his cataloging of the 1839 With Drapery proof from the John Jay Pittman Collection (5/1998), lot 1517, reports that Pittman bought the coin from the Kreisberg-Schulman sale of the Gustav Lichtenfels Collection (2/1961), lot 2799. The coin is thought to have previously been in the Virgil Brand Collection.
For those who desire a concise roster:
1. PR64 NGC. Gustav Lichtenfels Collection (Kreisberg-Schulman, 2/1961), lot 2799; John Jay Pittman (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1517, where it brought $132,000 and was graded PR65; Phil Kaufman Collection; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2008), lot 2377, where it realized $184,000 as a PR64.
Deep mirrored fields, including areas within the shields, greet the viewer of this wonderful near-Gem. Whispers of light gold patina around the margins take on faint reddish-tan hues, and relatively strong field-motif contrast, particularly on the reverse, becomes evident when the coin is tilted under a light source. A solid strike brings out virtual fullness in the design features, save for minor softness on the star 7 centrils. A few unobtrusive field hairlines and some minute marks on the lower part of Liberty's left (facing) arm preclude full Gem classification.
It is seldom that one has the opportunity to bid on a coin that appears unique and exhibits outstanding technical quality and aesthetic appeal. These attributes make this proof 1839 With Drapery half dollar one of the most important bidding opportunities in this FUN auction.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part II. (NGC ID# 5NJK, PCGS# 6383)
View all of [The Greensboro Collection, Part II ]
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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.
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