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SERIES: Braided Hair Half Cents 1840-1857
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1852 1/2C Original, Large Berries, BN (Proof)

PCGS #:
35399
Diameter:
23.00 millimeters
Designer:
Christian Gobrecht
Weight:
5.44 grams
Edge:
Plain
Mintage:
Metal Content:
Copper
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 1 R-10.0 1 / 30 TIE 1 / 30 TIE
60 or Better 1 R-10.0 1 / 30 TIE 1 / 30 TIE
65 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 30 1 / 30
Condition Census (Explain)
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PR64BN estimated grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PR64BN estimated grade  
P. Scott Rubin: The 1852 Proof Original Half Cent is one of the most controversial issues in the whole Half Cent series. The 1852 Half Cents are a proof-only issue; however a few different reverse dies were used with a single obverse die to create Half Cents of this year. While Proof Half Cents of earlier years, especially those of 1840’s, all have reverse dies with Large Berries used to strike those believed to be Originals (or coins struck in the year of the coins date), the 1852 Large Berry issue has been a questionable issue.

Walter Breen believed that the 1852 Proof Large Berry issue from the die state of the dies is a restrike. Yet in his argument he believed that the 1852 Original Half Cents would weigh very close to the standard 84 grains that they should weigh and that it would not matter what the restrikes weigh since they were only made after their date of issue from planchets not necessarily made to mint specifications.

To Breen and many other well-known Numismatists the very rare 1852 Proof Large Berry Half Cent is a restrike. However, because of the fact mentioned above about the earlier Large Berry Proof Half Cents being Originals, it has been a tradition to refer to the 1852 Large Berry Half Cent as an Original.

The one problem with this is that no one has been able to find an issue of 1852 that meets all the criteria of an Original. Add to this the fact that in the most recent auction of an 1852 Proof Large Berry Half Cent, the Goldbergs (Grellman-McCawley) sale of the Missouri Cabinet Collection on January 26, 2014, lot 204, the coin offered graded Proof-65 Red by PCGS weighed 83.8 grains. While the three specimens of what is known as First Restrikes struck with a Small Berry Reverse weighed 82.7, 78.4 and 82.0 grains. These coins were graded Proof-66 Brown, Proof-66 Brown and Proof-64 Red-Brown by PCGS, respectively. The following lot was also an 1852 Proof Small Berry Reverse called a Second Restrike and weighed 97.6 grains and was graded Proof-65 Brown by PCGS.

This goes to show that on one hand the 1852 Large Berry Half Cent appears to be a Restrike (its die state, according to Breen) yet on the other hand it is a closer match to an Original (its weight is within tolerance for the issue). At the afore-mentioned most recent sale, the coin sold for $603,750 under the heading of Original, yet in the description it was also described as a Breen Restrike Series VII.

There are only five known (one damaged) examples of the 1852 Proof Large Berry Half Cent which is considered one of the classic rarities in U.S. Coinage. The controversy over this issue may never go away but many consider the 1852 Proof Large Berry Half Cent to be the Original.