the rarest of all numismatic items—
PROOF struck at the NEW ORLEANS MINT
by this seller directly from the March, 1991 Bowers and Merena sale, lot 440
(taken verbatim from the auction
“1898-O Proof-62. A rare and desirable
numismatic item accompanied by a letter of authentication from Walter Breen on Institute of Numismatic
and Philatelic Studies stationery, dated September 9, 1981. The letter states:
‘This certifies that the accompanying coin
is the one I examined
at the ANA Convention
in New Orleans, and that I unhesitatingly
declare it a genuine 1898-O half dollar and
a Proof striking.
I made this deduction
on the basis of striking quality, and
compared to those on genuine Philadelphia half dollars of the
period, and genuine O Mint business strikings.
The only difficulty
was the evidence of a cleaning, but this was not nearly enough
any doubt on the coin’s status.
two other reports are known to me of similar coins of
and mint, not impossibly one or both may allude to the same
(New England’s Public) Sale, II: 1140 (1976). Possibly the same
offered here. 2 (Kaplan Numismatic Gallery) Sale Dec 16-17, 1943.
As stated in Breen’s
letter, this coin has been lightly cleaned, although evidence of this is
extremely difficult to locate. Lightly
toned in lovely shades of pale gold, the sharp and frosty
central devices stand boldly
out from the deep mirror fields. Here is a numismatic rarity,
attested to by one of the finest
numismatic scholars of our time. An
for the advanced Barber half
dollar specialist to add this great rarity to his/her collection.”
was later examined by Jonathan K. Kern,
who graciously rendered his handwritten opinion and shared his vast numismatic
expertise in the following statement:
‘I would describe
the coin as: 1898-O Barber Half, very likely a proof
striking. Proof ? (60) obv. Field corrosion spot, light
has reposed in the same Lucite snap-lock as sold by Bowers + Merena. It is accompanied by the auction “flip”, the
aforementioned letters, page from auction catalogue, and invoice.
A rarity of
the highest caliber, certain to catapult the status of the collection it enters
next. This BRANCH MINT PROOF has remained off the market since we purchased it
23 years ago.
In a sense,
both PCGS and NGC were relative infants when this crossed the auction block in
1991. Very few (if any) “slabbed” coins
appeared in the sale.
certainly bears the hallmarks of a proof: the planchet appears to have been
specially prepared/polished, the rims are upset higher than typical business
strikes, the pressure exerted in striking this specimen—or the intentional use
of two strikes—has created ‘squared off’ denticles, crisp letters, and a mirror
finish to the planchet, even in recessed areas.
Please carefully read and fully understand the following paragraph
We have no
reason to doubt the statements in the Bowers + Merena auction catalogue. However, grading continues to change over
time as does discussion/debate over the method of manufacture.
As Branch Mint Proofs have ALWAYS been a subject of disagreement,
there will be ABSOLUTELY NO RETURNS for a dispute of this matter (proof vs
business strike). We will forever stand behind the
authenticity of this coin as a genuine 1898-O Barber half dollar; however, we
cannot guarantee what another professional numismatist or grading service will
declare about either the grade (uncirculated versus circulated) or method of
manufacture (mint state versus proof versus specimen). These terms are a binding part of
information, please phone:
Frederick J. Bart of BART, Inc
Although we believe our price is very fair
in the current market, it is our desire to place quality items into
appreciative collections. Feel free to make an intelligent counter-offer