1838-O 50C, BM PR (PCGS# 6226)

2005 June Long Beach Signature Auction #376

  • Auctioneer:
    Heritage Auctions
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Lot Description
1838-O 50C PR64 PCGS. 1838-O 50C Capped Bust, Reeded Edge. PR64 BM PCGS. The "BM" designation is for "Branch Mint," signifying that PCGS recognizes this coin as a Proof strike. This half dollar issue ranks among the most famous of all American coinage rarities. The inclusion of an example in a collection enshrines the owner among the ranks of American numismatics. The New Orleans Mint was established by legislation dated March 3, 1835, along with two other branch mints, in Charlotte, North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia. The original Mint Act specified: "That branches of the mint of the United States shall be established as follows: one branch at the city of New Orleans for the coinage of gold and silver; one branch at the town of Charlotte, in Mecklinburg county, in the state of North Carolina, for the coinage of gold only; and one branch at or near Dahlonega, in Lumpkin county, in the state of Georgia, also for the coinage of gold only. And for the purpose of purchasing sites, erecting suitable buildings, and completing the necessary combinations of machinery for the several branches aforesaid, the following sums, to be paid out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, shall be, and hereby are, appropriated: for the branch at New Orleans, the sum of two hundred thousand dollars; for the branch at Charlotte, fifty thousand dollars; for the branch at Dahlonega, fifty thousand dollars." The legislation further stipulated that the Superintendent of the New Orleans Mint was to receive a salary of $2,500 while those of Charlotte and Dahlonega would receive a salary of just $2,000. It was likely assumed that the New Orleans Mint, which was to produce both silver and gold coinage, would have considerably more business to conduct. Based on appropriations for construction, the New Orleans building was expected to be larger in physical size as well. It was not until 1838 that the New Orleans Mint was actually ready for operations. The first coins produced we
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