1839 Seated Liberty Half Dollar, PR62
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
recognized 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 representative of this issue when it was sold in the late
1980s. PCGS population data list only two examples and estimate a
survival of two to four pieces in all grades, while NGC has
certified six specimens, including an unknown number of
resubmissions and crossovers (12/18). Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert
estimated "less than six" different coins were extant in 1993, a
figure that closely agrees with our roster, which identifies six
individual pieces today. One of the coins known to us has been
impounded in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris
One-Year No Drapery Design Type
Only Six Proofs Traced
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. 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.
Ex: U.S. Gold, Silver and Copper Coins (Stack's, 10/1996), lot 300; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/2016), lot 3238. Unknown previous pedigree, possibly the coin discovered in a European collection by Marc Emory in 1981.
From The Speechless Collection. (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 Speechless Collection ]
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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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