Extremely Rare Proof 1825 Half Dollar
The Finest Specimen Certified by Either Service
1825 Capped Bust Half Dollar. Overton-113. Rarity-8 as a Proof. Proof-66 (NGC).
The Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Proof Coins listed several Proof 1825 half dollars but none have been verified as Proofs in the modern era. No Proof 1825 half dollar was in the Pittman Collection, though Breen identified Pittman as the owner of one.
None were in the Garrett, Norweb, Starr, Eliasberg, or Gardner collections. Neither the George Byers nor the David Queller specimen of this variety, has been certified as Proof, though both are prooflike.
The Greensboro Collection coin is the only other specimen to have been certified with Proof status.
Another example, described by John Dannreuther as an “obvious Proof,” resides in the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution, descended from the Mint Cabinet.
This example has not been offered at auction in at least 70 years. It was acquired by Eric P. Newman, in partnership with Burdette G. Johnson, from the estate of Edward Howland Robinson Green about 1940, remaining in the Newman Collection until acquired privately in 2007.
“Everybody in the United States has been trying to buy from the Green Estate! Can you get more?” — Burdette G. Johnson to Eric Newman, ca. 1940, as recounted by Eric Newman in 2009
Some have suggested that this piece was lot 959 in the 1890 Parmelee sale, later residing in the William H. Woodin and Waldo Newcomer collections. This provenance is plausible, but unfortunately unverifiable.
Parmelee’s Proof 1825 half dollar was not plated or precisely described in the catalog of his collection. Among the few auctions that offered coins from the William H. Woodin collection, the best match for this coin is lot 782 in the United States Coin Company sale of the “Collection of a Prominent American,” which was described as “Uncirculated with proof surface” but not illustrated.
The 1911 Thomas Elder sale of William Woodin’s half dollar collection contained more than 300 half dollars, mostly in high grade, but the only 1825 half dollar in the group was graded “fine.”
Waldo C. Newcomer’s collection was carefully inventoried but never thoroughly photographed before its private sale to B. Max Mehl in 1931. The early provenance of this coin before Col. Green are not provable, so modern readers of any provenance work on Proof coins are often left to sort possible facts from likely fictions.
Proof Capped Bust half dollars are alarmingly rare, particularly from the early to mid 1820s. This is the first of five Proofs of this design type to be offered and just one of eight in the D. Brent Pogue Collection.
Comparable to the uncertified offerings from the collections of Norweb (11 Proofs), Eliasberg (8 Proofs), and Pittman (11 Proofs), the selection of Proof Capped Bust half dollars in the Pogue Collection stands as an historic offering.
Spectacularly toned and deeply reflective, this is the finest Proof 1825 half dollar certified by the major grading services. Its mirrored fields are deep and flashy, though showing a trace of cartwheel luster. The central devices are superbly impressed, with details in the hair and at the central reverse that are far sharper than those seen on the Greensboro Collection coin, certified Proof-62 by PCGS and representing both of the two entries for Proofs of this data on the PCGS Population Report. Fine details among the curls behind Liberty’s eye and PLUR of PLURIBUS on the motto ribbon show extraordinary precision.
The star centers are soft on this and the other certified Proof of this issue, as they are on all other specimens seen from these dies. The fields show the microscopic radial flowlines expected of a Proof, accentuating the reflective luster without any indication of frost. No disfiguring marks are seen, just some extremely hard to find hairlines and a few short scratches near star 12. The toning is beautiful, with ideally intermingled blue and violet at centers and pale champagne gold at the rims. The overall visual impact, assessing the sharpness, reflectivity, toning, and state of preservation, leaves a more dramatic impression than most Proof Capped Bust half dollars extant.
This coin was sold by Stack’s Bowers as Lot 3056 in the February 9, 2016 Pogue Collection Auction in NYC.
PCGS# 6202. NGC ID: 24FL.
Pedigree: Publications: Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1989, 1989, page 46.
Provenance: Edward Howland Robinson Green Collection, before 1936; E.H.R. Green Estate; St. Louis Stamp and Coin Company (partnership of Burdette G. Johnson and Eric P. Newman), by sale, ca. early 1940s; Eric P. Newman Collection, by distribution; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, by gift; Stuart Levine, by trade, 2007; Chris Napolitano, by sale, June 2007.