1861-O 50C MS (PCGS# 6303)
Lot Number: 7076
Believed by Walter Breen to be a special Proof striking at the New Orleans Mint, perhaps to commemorate the ascension of the State of Louisiana to control, or later the next change to the Confederacy under the turmoil of 1861 for that Mint. The fields are well polished on an existing die that had seen use before, and the polishing may have been to remove clashing evidence or rust, in this case the lapping and polishing removed most of the drapery below Liberty's arm as well as much of the definition below her foot. In support of the special striking argument, there is a partial wire edge or fin around both the obverse and reverse rim. Furthermore, the rarity of this issue is notable, with a mere 4 examples graded by NGC and "Prooflike", one in each grade of MS-61, 62, 63 and 64. This number fits well with those reported in Walter Breen's <em>Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1977</em> on page 235.<br> </br> The surfaces show moderate handling marks, a few reeding marks and scuffs along with light hairlines. Toned in an irregular fashion with taupe-gray, gold and pewter on the obverse, the reverse more colorful with bands and swaths of crimson, orange-gold, rose and russet over a similar patina to the obverse. A tiny raised lump is found on the bottom of the middle arrowhead, and a larger rust pit is located on the left thigh of the eagle, just below the junction of his wing. For identification, there is scuff above (HA)LF. Given that 87% of the production of 1861-O half dollars were produced by the Confederacy or the State of Louisiana, it is highly likely that this coin was struck under those auspices and could well indeed have been some sort of special issue given its unique (to this die and just four coins) degree of reflectivity.