This fabulous pattern is an old friend of the firm, and upon seeing it in Richard Jewell's Collection we recalled immediately our last offering of it in March 2006 in our (ANR) sale of the New York Connoisseur's sale. It was described there as follows:
A splendid specimen, with needle sharp striking, pristine surfaces, and attractive iridescent toning, this half dollar represents one of the most important patterns to cross the auction block in our time. Although NGC suggests this is one of four certification events, likely a smaller number of different coins are involved. For many years the 1877 pattern half dollar series has been the Holy Grail of specialists. Although there are many favorites, it is generally agreed that the designs by George T. Morgan, as here, are especially beautiful. Among the metals of coinage, generally silver and copper impressions for each combination, the silver examples, as here, are the most valuable and most highly desired. Beyond that, aesthetic appeal can be a great challenge, as many pieces have been cleaned, or hairlined, or have other problems. When a simply elegant example with gorgeous toning, as here, crosses the block, all bets are off! The obverse features George Morgan's portrait of Miss Liberty as later (1878) used in larger form on the regular issue silver dollar. Around the border is a circle of beads, beyond which are elements including E PLURIBUS UNUM, 13 stars, and the date. Balancing the design, the reverse also has a circle of beads, beyond which will be seen UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / HALF DOLLAR. Within the beads, and with the wing tips piercing the circle (a nice artistic touch) is a defiant eagle with upstretched wings, perched on a cartouche with IN GOD / WE TRUST incuse, with olive leaves to the left and three lightning-form arrowheads to the right.
The coin is a landmark 1877 half dollar pattern, an amazing example from one of the most desired pattern series. For rarity, beauty and pedigree it likely has few equals and it stands as the finest graded by PCGS.
PCGS Population: 1; none finer.
From the Richard C. Jewell Collection. Earlier from George W. Cogan, March 17, 1883; T. Harrison Garrett; the Garrett Family Collection; The Johns Hopkins University; Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, 1979; Bowers and Merena's Rarities Sale (Morris Evans Collection,) August 1998, lot 2079; ANR's sale of March 2006, lot 1368.