Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 72

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Lot 1317

1808. . O-106a, Rarity-2. PCGS graded MS-66. CAC Approved PQ. Lovely golden toning on both sides. A coin that should set a record price. The finest 1808 Half we have ever seen. Lovely rose-gray and golden patina dances across pristine, heavily frosted surfaces. A semi-circular die crack that advances from top to bottom of the obverse is easily lost within the portrait, being diagnostic to pieces struck in the advanced state of the dies. The inner portion of the eagle's left wing (facing) is a trifle blunt, as usual. There is a solitary, dark toning spot in the horizontal stripes of the eagle's shield that should easily identify this exceptional, Condition Census 1808 half dollar. Pop 5; 4 finer in 67 (PCGS # 6090) .

History of the Capped Bust Halves (1807-36): John Reich's first assignment upon being made the Mints engraver was to create new designs for gold and silver denominations. The first ones to benefit from his attentions were the denominations most in demand at banks: half dollars and half eagles of 1807. According to the Breen encyclopedia, "Mint Director James Ross Snowden {1860}, using Mint documents not now located, said that the changeover occurred in Sept. 1807: [750,500], from four obverse and three reverse Reich dies. Critics at once attacked the design for portraying the artist's fat mistress (which may even have been true, though there is no evidence), and for having Ms. Liberty not only extravagantly buxom but wearing the pilleus, or liberty cap, on her head. For this the answer was immediate, as quoted by Thomas Jefferson in 1825: The cap was meant not for the pilleus but for a fashionable head covering of the time--specifically a mobcap, like the one found on portraits of Martha Washington but less elaborate and minus the veil." Reich's eagle was copied on United States infantry officers' buttons.

Half dollars were struck in every year and of every date except 1816. The mintage dated 1815 was delivered Jan. 10, 1816 only hours before a fire in one of the Mint's outbuildings ruined the rolling mills, making conversion of gold or silver bullion into standard planchets impossible until repairs were complete (late 1817). John Reich left the Mint March 31, 1817.
Estimated Value $22,000 - 25,000.
Ex Dawson, Heritage 9/1998.

Realized $48,300

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