Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 17

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Lot 1783

1838 Pattern Half Dollar. Silver, reeded edge. Judd-72. Pollock-75, Rarity-5. PCGS graded Proof 64. While PCGS does not differentiate, we suspect that this might be an original instead of a restrike, but we can't weigh the coin to determine for sure, as the strike is full on all but the uppermost central curls above the ear of Liberty and we see no traces of die rust or cracks, which appear on most of the restrike issues. To determine if this is a restrike or not, the coin must be weighed, 206 grains for an original (see the Pollock reference for more details) which is very scarce. 192 grains for a restrike, and both have the 360 degree reverse alignment (medal turn as opposed to coin turn).
The coin itself is toned a lovely steel gray with hints of lilac and gold, very even on both sides. Scrutiny will note faint hairlines in the fields, but these are not detracting. Razor sharp on the stars and most of the curls on Liberty, with the slightest weakness noted below TY and around the ear. On the reverse, the die engraving and strike are superb, with every minute feather detail sharp on the eagle. PCGS has graded 6 this high, with only 2 graded higher, both PR-66.
Historically, this coin marks the passing of the torch from Mint Engraver William Kneass to Christian Gobrecht. Kneass suffered a stroke in 1835 which left him partially incapacitated, and this is the last obverse die executed by him prior to his stroke (Judd refers to a letter from Mint Director James Ross Snowden confirming this fact), apparently undated and finished in 1838. The obverse features a matronly Liberty facing left, with long curly hair cascading down her back, neck and even underneath the shoulder of her bust. Liberty sports a sunburst tiara, although becoming, was not used on any regular issue coins. The reverse die is attributed to Christian Gobrecht, and features a stylized eagle. During his brief tenure, Kneass developed the raised blank rim and beaded boarder on the dime (1828), and these were incorporated on the half dime and half dollar in 1829. Kneass was known for his quickness and efficiency, and made an excellent combination with Christian Gobrecht. The stroke which Kneass suffered in 1835 forced him to more menial tasks, and he passed away in 1840 (PCGS # 11282) .
Estimated Value $4,000 - 5,000.
From the Benson collection and purchased from Ira S. Reed on April 27, 1945 for $30.00.

Realized $5,520

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