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    Description

    1839 Seated Liberty Half Dollar, PR62
    One-Year No Drapery Design Type
    Only Six Examples Traced

    1839 50C No Drapery PR62 NGC. WB-101. The 1839 proof No Drapery Seated Liberty half dollar is a celebrated 19th century rarity and a one-year design type that will appeal to series specialists and advanced type collectors alike. Walter Breen listed three specimens in his 1977 Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, but his list contained an example in the Norweb Collection, and that famous gathering did not have a specimen of this issue when it was sold in the late 1980s. PCGS population data lists only two examples, and estimates the surviving population at 2-4 pieces in all grades, while NGC has certified six specimens, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (11/14). Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert estimated "less than six" different coins were extant in 1993, a figure that closely agrees with our roster below. One of the coins in the roster has been impounded in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris since 1858.

    Prominent coin dealers S.H. and H. Chapman described an example of the 1839 No Drapery half dollar in lot 539 of the Richard B. Winsor Collection (Chapman, 12/1895):

    "1839 Liberty clad in a chiton, seated on a rock, her right hand supporting a U.S. shield, her left a staff of liberty, 13 stars; ex'g date. R. as 1836 but with HALF DOL instead of 50 CENTS. Edge milled. Type 1839-1865. Brilliant proof, very slightly hairmarked. Sharp impression. No drapery from elbow. Excessively rare. See plate."



    The lot brought $16.50, the same amount as an 1842 Small Date proof half dollar in lot 545, and much more than any other Seated Liberty half in the sale. More recent appearances include the PR65 NGC (now PR64+ PCGS) specimen in lot 2481 of the Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2009), which realized $241,500.

    The present coin has no traceable auction history before it appeared in a Stack's sale in 1996. It may be the specimen included in a proof set from a European holding discovered by Marc Emory in 1981. It is an impressive PR62 specimen, with sharply detailed design elements and reflective fields that show attractive highlights of champagne-gold toning. A few minor hairlines are evident, accounting for the grade, and a small clip on the reverse rim at 10 o'clock (as struck) serves as a useful pedigree marker. The reverse shows the usual die crack through MERICA and HAL DOL that is seen on all examples of this issue. Any appearance of an 1839 No Drapery Seated Liberty half dollar is a major numismatic event and we expect intense competition when this lot is called.

    Roster of 1839 No Drapery Proof Half Dollars

    1. PR64+ PCGS. Possibly the 1948 ANA example; Findley Collection; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 3861; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2009), lot 2481, where it brought $241,500; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2013), lot 5653; New York Signature (Heritage, 11/2013), lot 3621, realized $223,250.
    2. PR64 PCGS. Reed Hawn Collection (Stack's, 8/1973), lot 125; March Sale (Stack's, 3/1985), lot 1186; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/1999), lot 199; Benson Collection (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 2/2001), lot 1752; ANA Sale (Superior, 8/2002), lot 973; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 5941; Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 3/2005), lot 1784; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 988; Eugene Gardner Collection, Part I (Heritage, 6/2014), lot 30526.
    3. PR63 PCGS. Exclusively Internet Auction (Heritage, 9/2002), lot 13257; Exclusively Internet Auction (Heritage, 12/2002), lot 19261.
    4. PR63. Bibliothèque Nationale
    5. PR62 NGC. U.S. Gold, Silver and Copper Coins (Stack's, 10/1996), lot 300; the present coin. Unknown previous pedigree, possibly the coin discovered in a European collection by Marc Emory in 1981.
    6. PR62 NGC. F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 4/1945), lot 246; Adolph Friedman; ANA Convention Auction (Numismatic Gallery, 8/1946), lot 812; E.M. Seneca; Berbert & Roe Collections (Stack's, 3/1965), lot 440; 1976 ANA (Stack's, 8/1976), lot 1172; Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 12/1985), lot 942; Worrell Collection (Superior, 9/1993), lot 712; Phil Kaufman Collection (Heritage, 4/2008), lot 2376; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2554; Boston Signature (Heritage, 8/2010), lot 3167.

    Additional Appearances

    A. Proof. An example sent by Mint Director Patterson to the Secretary of the Treasury on August 13, 1839, as an example of the new design.
    B. Proof.
    Richard B. Winsor (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1895), lot 539; possibly Will W. Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 474; ANA Convention Auction (Frank Katen, 8/1948), lot 1766.
    C. Proof. Joseph Mickley Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), lot 1786, realized $3.75 to Colonel Mendes I. Cohen; Cohen Collection (Edward Cogan, 10/1875), lot 627, realized $8.50 to Heman Ely; Ely Collection (Woodward, 1/1884), lot 202.
    From The Sweet Bloomfield Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 27SZ, PCGS# 6381)

    Weight: 13.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Sweet Bloomfield Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,429

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% 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.

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