By James McCartney, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers …..
With a mintage of just over 5.2 million pieces, the 1833 Capped Bust half dollar is one of the more available issues of the series. This was the second year of to employ the new obverse master die that had been crafted by Chief Engraver William Kneass in 1832, showcasing Liberty in a slightly bolder relief with finer hair curls. This particular style was relatively short-lived, as Kneass once again redesigned the obverse master hub halfway through the 1834 production year.
Thirteen obverse dies and 14 reverse dies combined for 15 known die marriages of 1833 Capped Bust half dollars. A historically acknowledged, though enigmatic, population of 1833-dated Proof specimens has been designated O-116, though those pieces bear little relevance to the circulation-strike coins of the same date.
The Overton 108 die pairing, as represented by the present jewel, is readily available in Mint State but proves to be exceptionally elusive in true Gem preservation. We noted that this piece “ranks among the finest of its die variety” in the cataloging of lot 1885 in the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection in April 1997. Evaluated as “MS-64 Condition Census” at the time, the coin has since been certified MS-66 by NGC. Stephen J. Herman’s Auction and Mail Bid Prices Realized (Spring 2016 Revision) places this piece in a tie with one other NGC-graded example for third place in the condition census, behind two NGC-certified MS-67s in second place and a single MS-68 (PCGS) that ranks as the finest known O-108. Even within the issue as a whole this piece remains extraordinary, as NGC has certified just three finer examples across all 1833 varieties—two of them presumably the aforementioned pieces.
For Bust Half specialists and early U.S. type collectors, the present example is a significant opportunity.
This Gem is visually striking, allowing undistracted appreciation of John Reich’s majestic Liberty. Predominately dove-gray pearlescence is lightly accented with champagne, bronze and olive tones at the borders of each side. The luster is soft but nicely composed across the design elements. The devices are executed to near perfection and should please even the most discerning enthusiast. A thoroughly splendid piece that pleased the “King of Coins” himself!
This Gem will be offered in the Rarities Night session of our November 2016 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo. To consign your rarities to this showcase event, please contact our offices today at 1-800-458-4646 to speak with a Consignment Director and see what Stack’s Bowers Galleries can do for you.