1839'O' Choice Brilliant Proof. Rarity-7. One of Five or Fewer Known. A beautiful example of this extremely rare coin. The surfaces are toned with iridescent blue and champagne with traces of dark green and russet intermixed. Faint hairlines are present which limit the technical grade, but not the overall appeal. For identification, there is a minute nick at the base of Liberty's neck, above the '1' in the date, and a small toning speck over the eagle's head. Struck with the usually seen die pairing that produced the vast majority of circulation strikes, on this early die state the obverse has just started to crack through the stars. The Mintmark is boldly double punched along the lower portion. On the reverse, the die cracks extend through most of the legend, but they are lighter than usually encountered. Apparently both dies cracked very early in the production of these early Branch Mint Proofs, with the 1838'O' coins being struck with this same reverse die (prior to the striking of this 1839'O' Proof issue).
Breen states in his Proof Encyclopedia that perhaps 4 are known, one of which may be included twice in his census that was published in 1977. A little more than a decade later when Breen published his extraordinary Complete Encyclopedia he stated that ''5 known proofs have dies aligned 180 degrees from normal''. This may be true for one specimen, but not the present coin which he used as the plate coin for his Proof Encyclopedia and a coin he certainly examined when he catalogued the Krouner Collection sold by Lester Merkin in 1971. Plate matching would be fruitful, and it may be that only 4 or fewer examples exist of this extremely rare Proof issue.
The following list of the known specimens was derived from Breen's Proof Encyclopedia:
1) The Present Coin. Ex Stack's Sale, September 1992, lot 358; Krouner Collection (Lester Merkin, February 1971, lot 736).
2) Proof, deeply toned. Planchet defect over eagle's head. F.C.C. Boyd ''World's Greatest Collection'' (Numismatic Gallery, May 1945, lot 411; Allenburger Collection (B. Max Mehl, March 1948); R. E. Cox Collection (Stack's, April 1962, lot 1875).
3) Reported by Breen in Philip G. Straus Collection (1951). Not later sold in New Netherlands #53, June 1959 or Stack's, May 1959. Not seen. Medal turn die alignment.
4) Private collection, possibly this or #3 above or another specimen--Robison Collection (Stack's, February 1982, lot 1607).