Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 81

The Pre-Long Beach Sale

Seated Liberty Half Dimes
Lot Photo Description Realized
Lot 753
1840. No drapery. PCGS graded MS-65. Well struck with a hint of light tone. Smooth satiny luster graces original and lively original toned surfaces. An attractive gem that wears its bold strike proudly. Pop 24; 18 finer, 12 in 66, 5 in 67, 1 in 68. (PCGS # 4321) .
Estimated Value $1,600 - 1,700.
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Lot 754
1849-O. NGC graded MS-66. A nice deep impression with untoned frosty mint surfaces. Delicate "old-silver" iridescence decorates both sides of this wholly lustrous Gem. The original finish is decidedly satiny in sheen (another NGC MS66 is prooflike), while the strike is sufficiently inviting for the issuing Mint, not sharp, but New Orleans Half Dimes are rarely sharp. A prestigious offering in all regards, there are no distracting abrasions to report.

The problem as far as collectors and investors are concerned comes with simply locating an 1849-O in today's market. The original mintage was fairly low, 140,000 pieces, and circulation seems to have asserted itself over many of these coins, now badly worn. Further, countless others were likely melted as the California Gold Rush resulted in an increase in the price of silver to the point where old tenor Half Dimes became worth more as bullion than as a circulating medium. While the occasional circulated and/or impaired survivor is available, Gem Mint State representatives are rare and seldom available.

Post-1840, the Half Dime retained Christian Gobrecht's original design for Liberty, however the Mint had Robert Ball Hughes make a new hub in that year. This design was adopted by the New Orleans Mint the following year, and the stars would remain an integral part of the obverse motif through 1859.

The Half Dime is a long-obsolete denomination that, interestingly, lives on in today's Five-cent Jefferson coin. When the founding fathers established a monetary system, they included a Five-Cent coin to be struck in silver. Since the Ten-Cent coin received the name of "Dime," it only made sense for its Five-Cent counterpart to be called a "Half Dime." The beginning of the end for this denomination came with the crises set off by the Civil War, and the hoarding and rapid disappearance of all silver coins from the war-torn Eastern States. Since the Half Dime did not return to widespread circulation with the end of that conflict, a replacement was urgently needed. Following on the success of the Nickel Three-Cent piece introduced the previous year, Congress authorized a Nickel Five-Cent coin for production in 1866. The introduction of the Nickel did not immediately signal the end of the Half Dime. The Shield Nickel was not widely accepted in the Western areas of the country, where silver coins were preferred in commercial exchange. With passage of the Mint Act of February 12, 1873, however, the Half Dime finally met its match and disappeared into history as one of several denominations abolished by Congress that year. Pop 3; none finer at NGC .
Estimated Value $11,000 - 12,000.
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Lot 755
1853. Arrows. NGC graded MS-67. Fully white. Aesthetically appealing, a handsome full strike bristling with bright mint bloom and without toning. Nicely struck, and unlike those which have the faintest touch of weakness at the centers, this exemplary coin is bold, with perhaps only the lower obverse rim denticles not quite up to being sharp.

The effects of the California Gold Rush on the United States' circulating silver coinage were immediate and unprecedented. With the price of silver reckoned in gold rising sharply on the world market, coins such as the Seated Half Dime were soon worth more as bullion than as a circulating medium of exchange. Bullion dealers and other speculators were quick to capitalize on this situation, hoarding and exporting newly minted silver coins at a profit for themselves. This was a loss for the federal government, unfortunately. By 1853, the situation had become acute. Congress, that dilatory body, was forced to act to lower the weight of most silver coins to discourage hoarding and keep the pieces in circulation. The Mint Act of February 21, 1853, was the vehicle of Congress' intervention, and it reduced the weight of the Half Dime from 1.34 grams to 1.24 grams. In the process it created our first subsidiary coinage in silver. Only the Silver Dollar was struck in Standard weight thereafter. In order to distinguish coins struck to this new standard from their old-tenor counterparts, the Mint supplied arrows to the obverse field before and after the date. Three years were deemed sufficient to familiarize the public with the new weight standard, and the arrows were duly dropped in 1856.

Today, survivors of the short-lived 1853 Seated Half Dime with Arrows series are eagerly sought at all levels of preservation by Type collectors. Both the Philadelphia and New Orleans Mints were active in the production of this type each year from 1853-55. Pop 15; 8 finer in 67 Star.
Estimated Value $8,500 - 9,000.
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Lot 756
1859. NGC graded Proof 65. Only 800 minted. Lovely blue and golden toning. Elusive and quite desirable as a Gem Proof, this conservatively graded example is free of spotting and we see there resides on the surface original (and quite iridescent) toning. The strike is everywhere complete, and is definitely above par for the period Proofs; both sides reveal extensive design detail.

For all intents and purposes, the 1859 modified design might well be considered a one-year Type coin. According to the Breen encyclopedia, "In early 1859, for Philadelphia Mint half dimes only, Longacre's new assistant Anthony C. Paquet (1814-82) prepared a new obverse hub; this was not copied on other denominations. It is most notable for hollow stars, slimmer arms, smaller cap, larger head. Coiffure, profile, and drapery folds are all altered …The new hub occurs on both the 1859 Philadelphia obverses, and reappears on the 1859 and 1860 fantasy coins without UNITED STATES."

Before the end of 1859, the mints chief engraver, James Longacre, made entirely new hubs for the 1860 dime and half dime. Many have suspected that Paquet's limitations as a coin designer induced Longacre to ease him out. Pop 48; 24 finer, 16 in 66, 7 in 67, 1 in 68.
Estimated Value $2,500 - 2,600.
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Lot 757
1865. PCGS graded Proof 63. Untoned with some light hairlines visible. Only 500 struck of this popular low mintage P-mint issue. Struck early in the year in the waning days of the U.S. Civil War. Pop 46; 79 finer at PCGS. (PCGS # 4448) .
Estimated Value $400 - 440.
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