Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 81

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Lot 876

1831. NGC graded MS-65. Nice even toning on both sides. For the date, a frosty, satiny toned gem with smooth almost cartwheel luster on both sides. Attractively struck as well, with just a hint of softness at the stars and reverse branch stem. Pop 49; 16 finer, 14 in 66, 2 in 67.

Historic Note concerning this design: After Robert Scot died in 1823, aged 79, his replacement William Kneass took charge of day to day coinage activity. Kneass had the same assignment as John Reich, when he was employed at the Mint: Improve existing designs in all denominations (Scot had replaced the Reich device punches with inferior copies of his own). Kneass, however, did not get around to the half dollars for over a decade. He did complete several device punches, beginning in 1824, but they differed only minutely from those already in use. (On the other hand, during Scot's last six years, the half dollars featured about a dozen overdate dies, whereas during Kneass's first six years, the denomination showed only five overdates, which the Mint might have seen as an improvement.)

Numeral and letter punches during the early 1820s were furnished by Henry Starr; after about 1824, by Christian Gobrecht, the inventor, mechanical genius, medallist, and bank-note-plate engraver who would eventually to replace Kneass after the latter suffered a stroke in 1835

Edge devices differ minutely from one year to the next on Bust Half Dollars; sometimes several were in use during the same year. Unfortunately, the advent of the first few generations of grading holders obscure the important edge variances on these large coins.

Breen reports in his encyclopedia, "Tens or hundreds of thousands of specimens 1809-36 went directly to banks, which retained them as part of their cash reserves, long after new laws mandated smaller sizes and lower weights. These coins came to public attention about 1933-34, when Pres. Roosevelt's bank holiday resulted in exhaustive searches of many cashiers' vaults. Others showed up during the same period owing to bank failures, still others from hoarders' estates. Before then, the biggest single source was probably the Economite hoard (buried by the New Harmony Society, Economy, Pa., and discovered in 1878). This contained 111,356 bust half dollars, many close to mint state but scrubbed--including 100 1815s. For this reason, many varieties of this design come mostly in VF to AU, "sliders" (slightly rubbed coins being masqueraded as "UNCIRCULATED") being common. However, truly mint-state specimens of any date before 1836 are difficult to find, far more so if sharp strikings.".
Estimated Value $6,000 - 6,500.


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