1864 50C MS (PCGS# 6311)

2011 October 13-16 US Coins Signature Auction- Pittsburgh #1160

  • Auctioneer:
    Heritage Auctions
  • Lot Number:
    3746
  • Grade:
    MS67
  • Price:
    $48,875.00
Lot Description
1864 50C MS67 PCGS. CAC. The 1864 half dollar mintage was a typical one for the era, at 379,100 business strikes plus a modicum of proofs. If one examines the relative mintages of the late 1850s and particularly the Civil War-era years of 1861 through 1865 in Philadelphia versus San Francisco, it becomes clear that while the far Western mint was on a gradual uptrend during the period, the more-established Eastern mint was on an opposite downtrend. The Civil War seemed remote and almost part of another country to the hard-money Western economy; the yearly S-mint half dollar issues slowly increased in quantity during the late 1850s-early 1860s, approaching the 1 million-coin mark in both 1861 and 1863. In contrast, the Philadelphia Mint produced well over 2.8 million half dollars in 1861, the year the Civil War began; those in the East initially expected an easy victory. But by 1863, the Confederate victories at First Bull Run (First Manassas), Chancellorsville and Chickamauga, the horrors of Gettysburg, and numerous other inconclusive major battles led to heightened prospects for a long, protracted, bloody conflict. First gold, then silver, then copper coins disappeared from circulation, replaced by the filthy "shinplasters" paper currency, along with cent-sized tokens issued by private merchants featuring patriotic slogans or advertising messages. Even though the Mother Mint made a token effort at maintaining coinage in circulation, it soon became apparent that no amount of coinage, however large, would prevent the populace from hoarding gold and silver coins. The present Superb Gem 1864 Seated half is among the finest survivors of the year before the war finally ended, one of only three specimens each in this ultimate grade at both PCGS and NGC, as there are none finer at either service (9/11). The dominant warm, swirling luster is pale silver-gray with a strong satin element and faint golden overtones. The strike is crisply delivered from dies that show spidery cr
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