Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 75

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Lot 1484

1854-O. Arrows. NGC graded SP-63. A needle sharp strike with semi reflective surfaces on both sides. The obverse displays light mottled russet and royal blue toning, while the reverse displays light golden hues within the recess. Pop 1; none finer at NGC.

This spectacular 1854-O Arrows half dollar traces to the famous Reed Hawn collection. To our knowledge this is the only Proof striking of the 1854-O half dollar. No others like it have surfaced in the years since, causing us to believe this is a unique piece where it is mentioned briefly on page 235 of Walter Breens 1977 Proof Encyclopedia: "Date slants up to r., 54 touch. Reed Hawn:183, $1,300, unverified." Examination of the photo of Reed's coin in the Stack's catalog when it resold in Heritages July 2008 ANA sale, positively identifies this as the coin from his historic offering of half dollars. The description in the Stack's catalog in 1973 was concise and explicit: "A magnificent Brilliant Proof, with full glittering surface even in the stripes of the shield on the reverse. There is no doubt that this is a specimen striking, not only because of its mirror surface, but also because of the perfection of strike. A lovely coin with pale russet and golden toning."

The surfaces display full, smooth mirror surface over both sides. Furthermore, the striking definition exhibits exceptional detail. As to the reason for such a coin to having been struck, Breen did not speculate. The true story behind this coin like so many before must be assumed to be lost forever. Yet, according to the Heritage description, the "attributes of the piece stand as testament that something special was done to create a specimen striking in New Orleans in 1854. This is the only coin even rumored to exist as a specimen or Proof striking of the 1854-O half dollar."

A landmark rarity for the Year 2013!
By 1850, the massive flows of gold from California had depressed the prices of that metal, and made silver more valuable by comparison. Hence, all silver coins disappeared from circulation as they were worth more than face value. Depositors gave little silver to the mints for coinage, and there were no denominations in circulation between the cent and gold dollar. Something had to be done, so in 1853 Congress reduced the amount of silver for minor denominations, in order to reflect the market value of silver as compared to gold. On the half dollar, the weight was reduced from 206.25 grains to 192 grains, and Mint Director George Eckert ordered quick changes to the dies so the entire design did not have to be changed. Arrows were added at the date, and on the reverse, rays were added surrounding the eagle. These design changes caused a problem, the dies cracked and broke to pieces much faster with the arrows and rays. In fact, die life fell to one-third normal, and dies had to be replaced rapidly. When Col. James Ross Snowden took as Mint Director in 1853, he immediately ordered the rays removed starting in 1854, both to extend die life and because so little of the heavier pre arrows coinage was in circulation by then. The arrows were later dropped starting in 1856. Estimated Value $30,000-UP

Realized $41,400

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