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    1878-S Half Dollar, Gleaming AU55
    Unrivaled Series Rarity

    1878-S 50C WB-101, Die Pair 1, R.5, AU55 PCGS Secure. The 1878-S is the Seated half dollar series' contribution to the roster of paramount 19th century rarities, far and away the most challenging issue in the 1839 to 1891 half dollar coinage. Its rarity stems from a combination of a low 12,000-coin mintage and an extremely high attrition rate, two factors which owe their influence to the Bland-Allison Act, passed by congress on February 28, 1878, over President Hayes' veto, mandating the production of millions of silver dollars that would feature designs by Mint Assistant Engraver, George T. Morgan. The Annual Report of the Director of the Mint for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878, stated in part:

    "At the date of the authorization of the standard silver dollar there was on hand in the Treasury and mints in fractional silver coins $6,253,624.76; and the demand for these coins being light, this amount was regarded as sufficient to meet any probable demand for some time to come, and the coinage of fractional silver was temporarily suspended and preparations made to work the mints to their full capacity in striking the dollar."

    Bullion purchases for the coinage of silver dollars commenced in March at a rate of a little more than $1.17 per ounce, a trifle above the current London rate of 53.1208 pence which was equivalent to just more than $1.16 per ounce American. This purchase rate would produce a marginal profit for the government with each silver dollar containing only about $0.90 worth of silver. However, silver interests near the West Coast branch mints initially refused to supply the requested bullion to the government at the London rate, and instead demanded additional profit equal to the cost of having foreign silver shipped to San Francisco. These hard-ball terms were rejected by the Mint, but silver dollar coinage in San Francisco was nonetheless commenced, just at a rate no greater than allowed by bullion stores already on hand. Without any excess silver stock, any possibility of additional half dollar coinage during the year was eradicated, and those minor silver coins already on hand were distributed as need into the channels of commerce for the next several years.

    It is estimated that only about 60 examples of the 1878-S half dollar survive in all grades, with just 54 coins individually accounted for by Bill Bugert. These range in condition from AG to Mint State, the higher-grade pieces by far the most highly coveted. This Choice AU representative survives with gleaming prooflike fields, as is expected for an issue with such a small mintage, and retains almost complete detail on the relief elements. Light golden tints accent the bright, steel-gray surfaces, and a few lines are evident in the fields, not unusual for the grade. A comparable example of this final S-mint Seated half may not be offered publicly for quite some time. The interested specialist should not let this significant 19th century rarity pass by. Population: 1 in 55, 14 finer (4/15).

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 572258, Base PCGS# 6360)

    Weight: 12.50 grams

    Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2015
    4th-7th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,443

    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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