Ron Guth: The 1838-O Half Dollar was the first coin struck at the New Orleans Mint and one of the first branch mint coins of any denomination. Apparently, only 20 coins were made as Proofs. Today, less than a dozen have been traced, making this one of the most important American rarities.
The January 22-26, 1890 sale of the R. Coulton Davis collection by the New York Coin & Stamp Company (H.P. Smith and David Proskey) contained the following note for the 1838-O Half Dollar listed as Lot 655 “…sharp perfect impression: almost proof. We have seen a letter from Dr. Riddell, Superintendent N.O. Mint, 1838, which accompanied a similar Half Dollar, in which it was stated that only four Half Dollars of this date and mintage were issued, and judging from the extreme rarity, we do not doubt the truth of the statement.” The coin sold for $51.00
The finest Branch Mint Proof 1838-O Half Dollars graded by PCGS are a pair of Specimen-64s.
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