1830 O.117 (Rarity-8 as Proof). Small 0. Choice Brilliant Proof. A splendid coin that retains classic steel gray fields with frosty white devices. The strike is medallic in nature, quite unlike the usual Capped Bust Half Dollar struck for circulation. Place this one in a coin case at any show and watch the reactions. Expect ''Is the Gallery Mint up to 1830?'' from passers by. The dies were clearly frosted and then the fields polished before this coin was struck. Note the slight double striking on Liberty's nose and a few of the stars. The strike is full and complete on all save for stars 8 and 9, which lack their central radial lines. The top of the '5' in the denomination is repunched, and make sure to study the die lines above Liberty's cap, as they are sharply raised and at first glance appear to be scratches--but they are scratches on the die--not the coin.
Identifiable by a trivial drift mark stretching from the eagle's beak and touching the scroll above. Normal edge lettering. An exceptionally early die state, with no die cracks or clashing evident, and likely the very first coin struck from this die pairing, and the only Proof so reported of the Overton 117 marriage. Aside from the present variety, four other Proofs are reported of this date, from a total of five die marriages. Perhaps Proofs of this date were struck to order as suggested by the evidence. A simply stunning coin that will invite any numismatist to long study its charms and historic character.
The following is a Census of the Proofs which could be reasonably constructed from the past forty years of auction appearances. Prior to 1955 most auction appearances were not plated so plate matching is impossible for tracking particular coins.
1) O.103 PCGS PR62. Identifiable by a tiny speck in field before nose of Liberty. Pittsburgh ANA Sale (Heritage, August 2004, lot 6215 at $46,000); Superior's Sale January, 1990, lot 3531; Heritage's Sale, October 1989, lot 602.
2) O.108 ''Gem Proof'' although David Akers noted it may be a controversial coin which may be a Prooflike Uncirculated example. This coin perhaps should be considered a Specimen striking. Identifiable by a small nick on Liberty's bust near the upper drapery line. Ex Medio/da Costa Gomez Collections (Stack's/American Numismatic Rarities, June 2004, lot 4360 at $12,075); Superior's Sale, December 2003, lot 351; The John J. Pittman Collection, Part II (David Akers, May 1998, lot 1494 at $10,450); Dr. C. A. Allenburger Collection (B. Max Mehl, March 1948, lot 865).
3) O.110 ''Brilliant Proof and a Superb Specimen''. Identifiable by a couple of small toning spots above Liberty's cap. Ex Robison Collection (Stack's, February 1982, lot 1589); Reed Hawn Collection (Stack's, August 1973, lot 93); Lester Merkin's Sale, February 1971, lot 720 and Breen's Proof Encyclopedia Plate coin.
4) O.111 NGC PR64. Identifiable by two tiny specks below ''TE'' of UNITED and toned. FUN Sale (Heritage, January 2005, lot 30217 at $41,400); ANA Sale (Bowers and Merena, July 2003, lot 1503); Benson Collection, Part II (Goldbergs, February 2002, lot 966 at $32,200); ANA Sale (Bowers and Merena, August 2000, lot 4111); Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, August 1999, lot 125); Massachusetts Historical Society Sale (PCGS PR63 Bowers and Merena, November 1994, lot 2252); Gary Burghoff Collection (Superior, January 1980, lot 205); Terrell Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, May 1973, lot 837).
5) O.117 Choice Brilliant Proof. The Present Specimen. Bowers and Merena's Auction, January 1992, lot 347; Superior's Sale, February 1987, lot 3158; Paramount's Session of Auction '84, July 1984, lot 663; Kagin's 1977 ANA Sale, July 1977, lot 1460.