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October 31, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

October, 2022

1967 SMS "Spitting Eagle" Die Clash Quarter!

NGC MS67* (Cameo Obverse)

Ever since our discovery of a 1984-P Spitting eagle clash on the back side of an Obverse Indent, Major Mint Error, we have been on the hunt for a clashed SMS quarter. As I explained in our February edition, I knew such a thing existed because we had one years ago, before the "Spitting Eagle" was a thing. We had a very successful PAN show this fall, which miraculously produced the very hen's tooth we sought. We never dreamed of find one in this grade; an MS67* (NGC STAR) with a full Cameo obverse and deep mirrors over each side; so we have made this piece our hands-down, October Coin of the Month. The dealer didn't want to part with it and said, "Let me just take one last look!"

The extra strike pressure of the quasi-proof, Special Mint Set, or SMS striking has produced an incredible amount of clash detail, on both sides. The profile of Washington's face, within the wing, and his neck, connecting the beak and wing, is the most common feature to appear on Washington quarter clashes. It's the feathers all around Washington's bust, the leaves behind his head, and some of the letters from IN GOD WE TRUST in the wing, that distinguish the clash on this die pair as a remarkable example of the phenomena.

Errors of this kind are extremely rare on SMS and Proof coins. NGC has recognized it as a Mint Error, Clashed Dies, as only 1983-P is currently published as a Spiting Eagle. The release of the next Cherrypickers' Guide is supposed to change that, but this one probably won't be in it either, as we did not have a sample to submit when they were putting it together.

Click to enlarge

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

September 30, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

September, 2022

1805 Overton-105A Draped Bust half dollar PCGS / CAC VF25

Important Rarity-6 Die Marriage with Exceptional Surfaces

A reverse rim break, or CUD, above "ATE," and another crack starting through "ITE," define the Overton 105A, Tompson-12 die marriage. As a Rarity 6, there are just 12-30 known in all grades. With multiple breaks affecting the reverse die, it's easy to see why this die marriage is so rare today.

In choice VF, these are seldom offered for sale. The last piece we saw was several years ago, when another VF25 was offered. It had about the same detail but had light grey surfaces and a number of black spots or prints across the obverse. These flaws did not stop it from realizing almost $3000.

This piece has exceptional original skin, with crusty devices and satiny lustrous fields that have developed a rich dove grey patina, with hints of teal, gold, and dusty rose dancing over the luster. Seldom does any 1805 half dollar show up looking like this, let alone one that is a Rarity 6. It's easy to see why it was CAC-worthy.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

August 30, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

August, 2022

1998-D NGC MS67PL Washington Quarter

Finest Known Rarity, Pop 8

With all of the 1998-D Prooflike quarters we've handled over the years, it was very surprising, and not very surprising, that there are only eight coins graded in MS67PL (none finer). The planchets they were heavily marred by gouges from tumbling, and these disfiguring defects show up after striking. Most 1990s clad coins have deep crevasses caused by these planchet tumbling marks, which can't be fully erased through striking. They can be unsightly, but only in lofty grades above MS65 can they lower a coin's grade.

Thus, a lot of 65PLs have been graded, some 66PLs have also, but very few 67PLs. This piece has just a handful of very small tumbling marks that do not distract, and the fields, in particular, are extra-clean. Another factor that prevents clad quarters from making MS67 is the presence of scrape marks on the eagle's breast. The first thing to look for when grading a clad Washington is the presence, or absence, of these scrapes. This one has none, giving it another huge advantage over the vast majority of 1998-Ds.

The surfaces are soft golden white, and this piece is totally original, probably just the way it was when taken from a Mint Set. The mirrors are complete on both sides, which can't be said about all of these. A fantastic example of this issue that is literally impossible to improve upon, currently.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

July 31, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

July, 2022

1832 NGC AU55 Bust Dime

Quite Possibly the nicest all-original Capped Bust dime we have handled.

We have harangued on this subject many times in the past. Bust dimes are generally of very poor quality, most being damaged, cleaned, spotted, or even artificially toned. These workhorse coins were not treated well in circulation, and the services are very forgiving on them, more so than on other Bust coinage, it would seem.

Therefore, we avoid Bust dimes religiously, almost to the point that we never even consider buying them. I think, including this piece, one could count the total number of Bust dimes we've offered on two hands, maybe even one hand. Therefore the presence of this piece in our inventory is a wonder. Indeed, the existence of this piece may be a wonder, also.

The sharply struck design elements are surrounded by hard, lustrous satin fields that have no hairlines, corrosion, spotting, or hits. A few tiny wear spots on the highest tips are all that interrupt the alluring teal green and dusty rose hues that dance over each side of this apparently all-original survivor. Where the heck did this thing come from?

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

June 30, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

June, 2022

Late-date Capped Bust half dollar with Adjustment Marks!

The early Philadelphia Mint often adjusted the weight of their rolled planchets by filing each side to remove extra metal. The parallel filing lines left behind are called "adjustment marks," and they often still show up after striking. Prior to 1807, the majority of blanks seem to have been adjusted. The Capped Bust series saw a market decrease in the practice, perhaps the Mint was getting better at rolling planchets to the right thickness. After about 1810, they are virtually non-existent.

That said, we have observed a handful of 1833 halves, like the featured piece, which show unmistakable adjustment marks. For some reason, a bunch of raw blankswere adjusted in this year. Either a bunch were rolled out to thick, or perhaps a bunch of prior mistakes that had been set aside over a period of time, and finally adjusted and then used in 1833. At any rate, there seems to have been an unusual circumstance in 1833, and these coins should perhaps be considered Mint Errors.

The present example shows very clear adjustment marks on the lower right obverse, but some sneaky adjustment marks shoot through the drapery of the bust, as well as the Liberty Cap.

click to enlarge

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

May 31, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

May, 2022

1921 Mint Error Morgan Dollar

Dramatic Reverse Strike Thru!

Morgan dollars are very popular when they have major Mint Errors because, despite extremely large mintage figures, comparatively few dramatic errors survive.

This piece was struck through foreign debris, and a large depression is seen across the reverse. This is very unusual and highly desirable. Better yet, it occurs on a 1921, which has enjoyed extra interest in today's market due to the 100th anniversary just celebrated.

The piece itself is all-original, with warm golden tone over the satiny fields. A handful of luster grazes, mostly inside the strike-through indent, prevent a choice or select mint state grade on an otherwise very clean piece.

click to enlarge

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

April 30, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

April, 2022

Major Rarity Discovered! 1877-S Doubled Die Reverse FS-801

The Second Piece Ever Found in Mint State!

A confoundingly difficult variety to locate, in any state of preservation. Dramatic doubling of the upper reverse should make this an easy variety to locate, that is, if they are out there. The problem is that they just don't seem to be. DDR-802, the variety with a doubled lower reverse, is much more plentiful. We have been on the hunt for FS-801 for about two decades, and what a surprise it was that the first piece we came up with was one of the finest known.

PCGS has graded a total of eight examples, one of which is damaged by chop marks, and the finest and only Mint State piece is a PCGS MS62 with heavy toning. NGC records a total of five pieces, two of which are damaged coins. Just one is graded numerically in Mint State, that being the present MS61. Thus, this is the second finest and one of only two known in Mint State.

This piece is a bright, golden white and comes from an early die state, with cascading reflective luster rolling over the central fields, and satin just beginning to develop towards the peripheries. This change to satin is all that prevented a Prooflike designation, though the notable contrast between mirrors and frosty devices goes a long way toward PL, and one would think such a sight worthy of the Star. Perhaps we should just settle for a what we have, a gleaming, brilliant, early die state and just the second coin ever certified in Mint State.

With so few samples in high grades for examination, perhaps it is not surprising that no one seems to have noticed it's actually a Tripled Die Reverse, with three serifs on some letters, and also a possible Misplaced Date. Or, maybe these features don't show on later die states. Below the date, hiding within the dentils and numerous lathe lines, are a curving line and a straight line; a possible "87!"

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

March 31, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

March, 2022

Finest Known 1853 Doubled Die Reverse FS-803

PCGS AU58

There are three major Doubled Die Reverse varieties known for 1853 (P) Arrows and Rays halves. Two of those varieties, FS-801 and FS-803, show very strong doubling on UNITED STATES of AMERICA. One of these is a little stronger than the other, and the better variety has been assumed to be FS-801. However, looking at the references reveals the lack of a high-grade specimen of the elusive FS-803 for study, and worn examples don't show the same dramatic doubling as do unworn pieces.

The present PCGS AU58 is the single finest known example of FS-803. In fact, its a high-end 58, with shimmering satiny mint bloom in the fields and virtually no wear on the high points, giving it the appearance of your average MS62 or so. The swaths of original iridescent toning confirm that this would be an outstanding example of an 1853 half dollar, regardless of variety.

As the single finest example of an important variety, with unhampered doubling to examine in its full glory, it is clear that FS-803 is actually a more dramatic variety than, or at the very least, equal in quality to, FS-801. We covered a gorgeous example of FS-801 several years ago, so we are qualified to make a valid comparison. The doubling of FS-803 is less wide on AMERICA, but stronger on UNITED and on STATES OF. This piece needs to be photographed for the major references.

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

February 28, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

February, 2022

Discovery Piece 1984-P Spitting Eagle Quarter

found on Major Mint Error!

For some reason, the 1983-P Spitting eagle die clash gets all the attention. Yet, it's a die clash, and like Franklin halves and their many popular "Bugs Bunny" dates, there are other Spitting Eagle dates. The 1983-P is the most common Spitting Eagle; in fact, there is more than one clash for 1983-P! Having submitted Spitting Eagle varieties to the upcoming Cherrypickers' Guide for 1947-P, 1948-S, and 1995-P, it does not come as a surprise to us that more dates are waiting to be found, like this 1984-P that came to us completely by accident. We also handled an SMS quarter with this clash years ago, a major rarity.

Hiding on the back side of a dramatic Obverse Indent Mint Error, graded NGC MS64, perhaps no one ever looked at the reverse. Taken together, this is quite a remarkable coin. The outline of Washington's neck is what causes "Spitting Eagle" varieties, and some dates show virtually a complete outline of Washington on the reverse. On this 1984-P discovery piece, the impression of Washington's neck clearly connects the beak and the left-facing wing.Other fragments of Washington's bust are visible on either end of the arrow shafts, as typically seen. This is a solid example that we wish we had found a little sooner, as it missed the cut-off for the next Cherrypickers' edition.

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

January 31, 2022

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

January, 2022

Finest Known Spanish Copper 16 Maravedi

And From the Elusive Puerta De Alcala Mint

NGC MS63 Silvered

1664-S Spanish 16 Maravedi NGC MS63 Silvered

This is not entirely off the wall, as we covered a 1663 16 Maravedi a few years ago, and some of these coins found their way to the American Colonies. These are often associated with pirates, as they were made during the heyday of 17th century piracy. And also, World coins have been gaining a real following in recent years, as most represent incredible values and rarity compared to seemingly overpriced and common U.S. coinage.

That 1663 piece was an XF45, this one is an MS63, and tied with one other coin as the finest graded for the entire denomination. An interesting die variety to boot; the M and S are in opposite places on this reverse die. These were struck on paper-thin planchets, on roller or rocker presses, causing the finished coins to be bowed in shape. Add 350 years, and very few of them are going to grade, let alone as Choice Mint State.

This piece is the single Finest Known example from the Puerta De Alcala mint, an institution that only existed for a few years in the early 1660s, outside Madrid. This mint is known for making a number of billon issues; that is, pieces of debased silver alloy. However, the present coin is actually silvered copper, which is an even stranger combination. It could indicate that this was a special presentation piece, or it could be that the mint at Puerta De Alcala was cutting some extra corners to cheapen the coins prior to their closing.

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

December 31, 2021

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

December, 2021

2021 P, D, & S Morgan Dollars!

I have been an unashamed, vocal critic of the Mint’s seemingly half-hearted attempts to recreate early 20th century classics for their 100th anniversaries. I didn’t even order any Morgans; I figured, “Why go through the hassle and torment of the Mint website’s sporadic functionality just to end up with a handful or junk bullion again, like we all did in 2016. I vividly remember the lopsided eagle on the 2016 Walkers, and that dull satin finish across the fields and devices of those three, disappointingly small-size representations.

After that preface, you can understand the positive shock I feel for being able to select the 2021 P, D, and S Morgan dollars as the Coins of the Month! This is also the first instance of more than one coin getting that recognition, in fact, this accolade is for an entire mintage of three separate coins! A couple collectors, lucky enough to get extra pieces, sent them to us to be graded and sold. I was fully expecting disappointment when I opened the first box.

It turns out that the 2021 Morgan dollars are gorgeous and certainly the best attempt at recreating a classic design in recent times. And, the coins were actually minted in the three current mint locations. While the design relief is a little low, and the rim treatment is not quite right, the design elements and lettering are absolutely spot on and the satiny surfaces are much less oppressive than on the 2016 issues. It is safe to say that the 2021 Morgan dollars are a better representation of classic Morgan dollars than were the 1921 Morgans, which, you will recall, were also recreations from new design hubs, following a 17-year hiatus.

However, only the 2021 (P), D, and S pieces get my approval. The privy mark concept for the CC and O dollars makes perfect sense, as the coins were not minted in those defunct institutions in Carson City and New Orleans, but rather in Philadelphia. That said, the execution of these privies could not have been worse. They are very hard to read due to the extremely small, shallow incuse lettering, and the small size of the ovals in which the letters sit. I had one customer tell me was upset after opening his 2021-CC dollar because he didn’t think it really said "CC" within that small, horizontal oval privy mark. The New Orleans privy is even more perplexing. They shrunk the oval down considerably from its size on the CC dollar, and re-oriented it vertically, creating an oval within an oval. Why not keep it consistent? It’s so small that it’s hard to grasp what you’re looking at. The viewer is not sure whether they are seeing a Russian nesting doll ‘come apart, or if it’s really the egg from Mork and Mindy, and Jonathan Winters is about to pop out of the hole and wave. Certainly, no one is seeing an “O.”

The 2021 Peace dollar is what recent generations would call an “epic fail.” The original 1921, high-relief design was very difficult for the Mint to strike up, and many Peace dollars were struck flat above the ear, until the Mint retooled the design to a lower relief in 1922. The 2021 Peace dollar was the opportunity to correct the flaws of one hundred years prior. Instead; the Mint actually built the flat strike into the design. While the 2021 Peace dollar is in lower relief than either of its predecessors it has less detail. Who is making these decisions? Even the concept pictures on the Mint’s website omit these flat spots. Baffling and bewildering, Nanoo, Nanoo.

Click to enlarge

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

August 31, 2021

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

August, 2021

1942 Walking Liberty 50C

with "The Achilles Heel" Die Clash!

Our work on mid-20th century die state varieties has lead to some interesting discoveries, and we have seen some evidence of die clashing on Walkers before. Most of those coins were struck on heavily polished dies because the Mint had already caught the clashing and filed down most of all of the clash marks. Our August Coin of the Month is an unusual and never before seen (by us) Walking Liberty clash that has not been erased by the Mint. And, it shows a huge raised clash behind Liberty's heel that looks like a harpoon or sword, hence the Achilles Heel designation we have given it.

The raised bar of metal jutting out from behind the heel is actually a clash of the field between the edge of the eagles wing and the bottom of the letters "RICA" in AMERICA. On the underside of the clash mark is a noticeable barb. This is a clear trace of the curving "C." Very little clashing shows on the reverse, except for few tiny lumps around "MERI."

An unaltered clash of this strength, on a Walking Liberty half dollar, is presumed to be quite rare. Again, this is the first we have seen. The variety market for Walkers is still in its infancy. There are various re-engraved dies, Doubled Dies, RPMs, and now, clash marks, that have yet to come into their own. If this was a Franklin half dollar with a huge clash coming out of the bust, it would be widely sought. As things are today, we think you may be able to find one of these out there, now that you know they exist.

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

July 31, 2021

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

July, 2021

Cool 1943-S Spiked Neck Washington Quarter!

A classic Redbook variety, the 1804 spiked chin half cent is a well-known numismatic oddity of unexplained origin. That's why we were all over this quarter when it appeared before us. A similarly shaped spike juts out from Washington's neck. This piece was an easy pick for July's Coin of the Month spot.

I assumed this was some sort of die clash, picking up the feather lines on the eagle's left-facing wing. However, the strange thing is that there doesn't appear to be clashing anywhere else, and the surfaces appear to be that of a fresh, early die state. In fact, the reason I picked this coin up in my hands at a recent show was its semi-prooflike appearance.

The clashing that takes place on Washington quarters typically results in a goiter on Washington's neck, and a series of lines circling around the reverse, which form the outline of Washington's bust when these lines are connected together. This piece has what could pass for a goiter clash on the neck, but it has no signs of clashing on the reverse. For instance, many variety collectors will be familiar with the spitting eagle clash, where Washington's neck clash connects the eagle's beak with the left-facing wing. That is not present here, and you would think it would be, with such a strong supposed clash of the eagles wing on the neck.

A 1947 "Spitting Eagle" quarter we submitted to the Cherrypickers' Guide shows a clear clash of Washington's neck on the reverse.

It is indeed possible that the reverse die was badly damaged and had to be replaced. However, we note that both obverse and reverse are matching, early die states, which would be unusual but not impossible with a die change. But moreover, the Mint typically cared more for their obverse dies, and if this defect is a clash, the obverse, and probably not the reverse, would have either been replaced or repaired. There are no filing lines or attempts to erase this spike. When following 1940s and 1950s die pairs, it is highly unusual to see a replaced reverse die. That said, it is not impossible.

All in all, this is a very unusual piece, the likes of which we have not seen before. The surfaces have fresh orange peel ripples of satin and gloss, combined with scattered polishing and lathe lines, i. e., your typical early die state 1940s quarter. The spike seems to share this texture, and we wonder if it is a defect of the die manufacturing process that was simply overlooked. There are many 1940s dies that show odd defects like this, particularly around the date. In fact, this obverse has flaws around all four digits. Perhaps the die was eventually discovered and polished up into one of the Prooflikes of 1934-1955? That would make for a cool find, if it could be traced back to this seemingly rare,early die state!

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

May 31, 2021

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

May, 2021

Unique 1994 Strike- Through Mint Error SAE Turns Up in Two Places!

The PAN show in early May was a big event. Both the current and past presidents of the ANA were there to celebrate one of the only coin shows open to the public. Patrons of the show had to endure masks and getting their temples scanned with a ray gun on the way in the door, just to make the show happen. Perhaps it was worth it because the show clearly was a big deal; having visited this particular show every 6 months since 1995, I can tell you this was the busiest I had ever seen it.

As I peruse the busy tables, I came across the CONECA booth, which had 3 people crowded in front of it; when does that every happen? So rather than chit chat, I grabbed a free copy of ErrorScope magazine on the counter, said hello, and goodbye, put the book in my case, and forgot about it.

After the 3-day show was over and I had some time to regroup, I came across my ErrorScope magazine. I had recently listed a really cool, probably unique SAE Mint Error from 1994 that had the date almost obliterated. In fact, only the 4 was still visible but design clues easily date it to 1994. Something, probably a blob of coarse die grease, got between the dies and the planchet during striking, filling the digits and preventing the "199" of "1994" from striking up. Usually, that blob falls out and the die starts striking normal coins again. Thus, it piqued my interest immensely when I noticed that the first article on the cover was a 1994 Struck Through SAE. It can't be the same one, can it?

The article, by John Cava, began, "I picked up something different the other day," and included a perfect description of the unique piece I had just posted, complete with photographs. The pictures made it clear that both his coin and mine were from the same die pair, as the shape of the obliteration over the date is identical. In fact, I had to look very closely to be sure it wasn't the exact same coin. It was not.

Many Strike-through Mint Errors are unique, but sometimes a blob of grease will fill a die and actually get stuck, resulting in more than one coin with an identical strike-through. The revelations in the ErrorScope article confirm that to be the case here. In fact, it's possible that more than two piece exist, though with such a cool error on a popular, modern series, it's doubtful there are very many, or you would have seen them offered somewhere. The strike-through debris can either fall out or sometimes even get stuck to one of the coins, and detach from the dies. These fragments of debris can even remain in place on the coin, creating a "Retained Strike-through Error." If you come across a 1994 SAE that has a brown blob where the 199 should be, then the die cleared and you have the very last example struck of this very cool error.

The coin I listed was a very appealing toner, slabbed NGC MS66. The ErrorScope article mentions the problem of milk spots on SAE coins, and while my piece had a few of those, it also has a halo of lavender, plum, lemon, and orange toning at the obverse periphery, making for a very attractive, original gem. The toning actually helped me differentiate it from the brilliant piece in the article. Definitely something different, and the story alone made it worth a Coin of the Month spot!

Bibliography

Cava, John. 1994 Struck Through SAE. ErrorScope, Vol. 30, No. 3, May-June 2021. Page 13.

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

February 28, 2021

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

February, 2021

1948 FVI "Bugs Bunny" B-1a Franklin Half Dollar

PCGS MS67FBL

1948 Franklin Variety Index FVI Bugs Bunny B-1a

Our February Coin of the Month was easy to select; this is the only example of this bold and popular variety to be certified in MS67FBL.

Franklin half dollar production saw major challenges, starting with the first year of issue; 1948. Already, the Mint was having to pull dies and polish away menacing clash marks from the tiny eagle's wing, which resembled fangs on Franklin's mouth. This problem continued right through 1963 and, for decades, collectors have referred to these as the "Bugs Bunny" variety, due to Franklin's resemblance to the famous cartoon character on these coins.

The Franklin Variety Index, a DM Rare Coins 10-year research project that began its official release a couple months ago in December, currently identifies only one unique die pair for 1948. Known in the catalog as FVI Bugs Bunny B-1, this clash is in the B position, oriented toward the upper lip and/or touching the upper lip, but not overlapping the mouth. On this specific variety, two parallel "fangs" slant through the field in front of the lip at an angle, the one at left coming very close to the mouth, the one on the right well into the field.

Over time, star-bursting striations changed the die surface and wore away features, leaving only the clash line on the right, though this remaining feature tends to show very clearly, even in advanced stages of the die. The presently featured piece is the later stage FVI Bugs Bunny B-1a, showing only the one fang.

The rich satiny frost that develops on this later stage often accounts for a boost in numerical grade, when found uncirculated. The present piece is fully struck and caked with this billowing satin frost, which forgives a few tiny luster grazes and mint-made planchet defects, the latter of which are seen on all 1948 halves (That was another production problem that began in the first year of issue). Add to this amazing luster a halo of hazy rainbow iridescent toning that confirms total originality, and you have a home run variety coin. In other words, it has so much going for it that the buyer figuratively hit one out of the park by picking it up. Hmm, I made it sound really cool; it's too bad these articles are written after the coins have been sold!

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins

January 31, 2021

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

January, 2021

1951-S BTW Commemorative Half dollar

The Finest Known PL Commemorative of any design

NGC MS67*DPL!

An absolutely stunning piece that is very well in the running for the finest known Classic Commemorative Prooflike. Virtually as-struck and 99% snow white in complexion, with the look of polished chrome, and just a few tiny toning flecks that have not changed in over a decade. Very fine die polishing lines visible at some angles are characteristic of the Prooflikes of 1934 to 1955, about which we have written extensively. This is one of the first coins struck after the dies were polished and before striations and star-bursting began to cloud the mirrors. This is very rare as such. It also shows hints of light Cameo frost over the devices.

The use of DPL is an extraordinary occurrence for BTWs, or any of the Prooflikes of 1934 to 1955, in fact. This piece received the combination of STAR and DPL, something extremely unusual and which signifies a coin with mirrors that exceed the typical standard for DPL. Handling this piece was very instructive on learning what the freshly polished dies actually looked like. The various, granite-like striations that develop on the PLs of 1934 to 1955 begin to appear after the dies begin to stress, shortly after their initial use.

This piece was off the market for over a decade. It last appeared on the auction block, realizing $9775, at Heritage in 2009, pedigreed to the Bagne Collection of Prooflike Commems. It had just realized $11,552 two years prior, in 2007. Heritage described the coin as follows:

"Magnificent 1951-S Booker T. Washington Half

MS67 ★ Deep Prooflike

1951-S 50C Booker T. Washington MS67 ★ Deep Prooflike NGC. This amazing Booker T. Washington commemorative half is the only 1951-S MS67 ★ Deep Prooflike half certified by NGC. The coin displays unbelievable flash in the fields. The highly lustrous surfaces display magnificent brilliance with no hints of incipient toning. Under high magnification, die striations are visible in the fields. The design elements are fully impressed throughout. Even the pupils in Washington's eyes are visible! Marvelously preserved surfaces reveal no marks of consequence. We point out a minute milling mark on the right (left facing) eyebrow solely for the purpose of future pedigree purposes. The aficionado of high-grade commemorative coins does not want to pass up the opportunity to acquire what is perhaps the finest known example of this issue.

From The Jerry Bagne Collection of Prooflike Commemoratives."

This was an easy selection for our January, 2021, Coin of the Month spot, on its gravitas alone. However, the education takeaways are; first, that the PL coins of 1934 to 1955 start out very smooth, with only tiny die polishing lines. Only after continued use do the surfaces bloom with the myriad of granite-like striations (we have shown this to be the case in our die state analysis of a 1947-S Washington quarter, as well. Second, the NGC Star is used for more than just "eye appeal." It can be a very technical designation on brilliant coins with PL, DPL, Cam or UCAM properties, signifying that the obverse qualifies for a higher designation than does the reverse. Now you know!

Happy Collecting!

Doug

DM Rare Coins