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    Series Key 1878-S Seated Half, XF40
    Seldom-Seen Midgrade Example

    1878-S 50C XF40 PCGS. WB-101. Very small mintmark. The many collectors who specialize in Seated Liberty halves need no introduction to the 1878-S half dollar, but neophytes in the series might be surprised to find just how rare the issue truly is. In a much more widely collected series, the Morgan dollars, the 1878-S is among the most common issues in the entire series.
    Therein lies the rub.
    It is not solely the 1878-S Morgan dollars that are to blame, although they were coined in the amount of nearly 9.8 million pieces. Part of the blame may lie equally in the nearly 4.2 million Trade dollars that San Francisco struck in 1878, the 10.5 million 1878-dated Morgan dollars coined in Philadelphia, or the 2.2 million struck in Carson City. This was an era when the Philadelphia Mint produced coinage dies for the branch mints as well, and all 12,000 1878-S Seated halves are known to have been struck from a single pair of dies. Was the small production strictly a capacity issue, or was it also a function of their being but a single die for half dollars at hand?
    Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert write of the 1878-S in The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars:

    "This date is the key to a date/mint set of Liberty Seated half dollars and seldom comes on the market. Most likely, the rarity is due to the implementation of the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 which required mints to purchase vast amounts of silver bullion and mint silver dollars."

    The authors rank the 1878-S at R.5 in all grades and R.7 in XF/AU. This XF40 PCGS piece seems an excellent balance between affordability and quality, one of two in this grade with 14 submissions finer (likely including numerous duplications) (1/12). The surfaces are mostly slate-gray, save for some silver tinges in the central reverse. The diagnostic die chip to the left of the first vertical shield stripe is plain. No mentionable sign of contact appears on either side, and this well-struck piece retains abundant design detail for the grade. Offerings of midgrade 1878-S Seated halves seldom occur, and series aficionados seize them eagerly.(Registry values: N7079)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24KR, PCGS# 6360)

    Weight: 12.50 grams

    Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2012
    2nd-5th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,343

    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.

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