On November 17, 2014, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) announced that it has recently graded one of the four extant original 1861 Confederate Half Dollars. Graded NGC PF 40, this important Confederate issue will be auctioned by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in March 2015 as part of a collection sold to benefit the Henry P. Kendall Foundation.
Incredibly, NGC’s certification of the Kendall specimen comes immediately upon the heels of NGC’s announcement that it graded an original 1861 Confederate Half Dollar from the Donald G. Partrick Collection. The Partrick specimen, which is graded NGC PF 30, was acquired in October 2003 from the Stack’s Bowers Galleries John J. Ford Collection sale.
“The 1861 Confederate Half Dollar is a spectacular rarity and examples are typically seen only once a generation, if that often,” says Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC. “For NGC to have been selected to certify both the Kendall and Partrick specimens in the span of a month is a humbling testament to the confidence in NGC’s grading. Coins like these are the reason I have stayed a professional grader for nearly three decades.”
Only two other original 1861 Confederate Half Dollars are known. One is in the museum of the American Numismatic Society (ANS), while the other is held by Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
“Stack’s Bowers Galleries is honored that the Kendall specimen of the Original 1861 Confederate States Half Dollar now sits atop the NGC Census as finest certified. It’s only appropriate that this piece was graded in Sarasota, the very town where Confederate Secretary of the Treasury Judah P. Benjamin fled Union troops on his way to exile in England,” says Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries. “Stack’s Bowers Galleries is the only auction house in the world to have auctioned an original Confederate half dollar, having sold the John J. Ford, Jr. specimen in 2003, and NGC is now the only grading service in the world to have ever authenticated one.”
“Just as Stack’s Bowers Galleries now becomes the only auction house to offer two different specimens of the four known, NGC can wear the same laurel among grading firms. We’re delighted by this partnership and honored to handle this historic piece,” he added.
The four original Confederate half dollars were struck at the New Orleans Mint in April 1861 on the order of C.G. Memminger, the Treasury Secretary of the Confederate States of America. A confiscated 1861 Seated Liberty die with prominent die cracks was used for the obverse, while a new die that featured a “Confederate States of America” legend was used for the reverse. Four proofs were struck and presented to Confederate dignitaries pending approval from Memminger, which never came.
The Kendall 1861 Confederate Half Dollar was originally presented to a professor of chemistry at the Medical College of Louisiana, who also served as a refiner at the New Orleans Mint. After trading hands several times over the next century, it was sold in 1971 by prominent dealer Lester Merkin to the coin’s present owner.
For more information about the Kendall 1861 Confederate Half Dollar and to bid, visit the Stack’s Bowers Galleries website, StacksBowers.com.
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