We are pleased to present an exceptionally well preserved, remarkably attractive early date New Orleans Mint half dollar that is a condition rarity in MS-65 (PCGS) with a CAC sticker. It is featured as lot 7056 in our Rarities Night session of our Summer Global Showcase auction, crossing the block on August 25, 2022. Both sides exhibit full, intense mint luster beneath an overlay of vivid silver-mauve, blue-gray and golden-apricot, delivering outstanding eye appeal. It is fully struck with surfaces that border on pristine for the issue.
The 1850-O is the final high mintage New Orleans Mint half dollar delivered before passage of the Coinage Act of February 21, 1853, and it is one of the most readily obtainable issues of the 1840 to 1850 era. Circulated survivors are plentiful in all grades up to and including AU, although premium examples in AU-55 and AU-58 are quite scarce. Given the absence of contemporary numismatic demand in the South, however, this issue is very scarce in Mint State. The 1993 Wiley-Bugert rating at this level is Rarity-5, and Q. David Bowers (2016) estimates that 65 to 85 coins are extant. In Gem MS-65 and finer the 1850-O is a landmark condition rarity. The Bowers estimate at this level is just three to five coins, which squares nicely with the combined CAC population of four examples in MS-65 and MS-66. The existence of these exceptional coins is clearly the result of early numismatic intent and not merely a matter of chance. Given the virtual lack of collectors in the Antebellum South and the lack of interest in mintmarked coinage among the few numismatists active in the Northeast before 1859, the exact circumstances under which a small number of 1850-O half dollars survived with such extraordinary quality and originality are unknown. They certainly point to a very rare chain of events for O-Mint Liberty Seated coins from the 1840 to 1850 era. This specimen is a leading condition rarity among the Liberty Seated half dollar offerings in this sale, and a numismatic treasure from the pre-Civil War era New Orleans Mint.
For more information about the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Summer 2022 Global Showcase Auction visit StacksBowers.com. To consign your coins or paper money to one of our Showcase auctions or to our Collectors Choice Online auctions call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected].