One of two known First Restrike Proof 1847 Coronet half cents will
be offered at auction by Heritage Numismatic Auctions as part of its
Sept. 8 to 11 sale scheduled in Long Beach, Calif.
The First Restrike of the Proof 1847 Coronet half cent is the
rarest among the First and Second Restrikes known for the Proof-only
Coronet half cents.
The number of surviving pieces from the 19 believed struck is
uncertain. Definitive pedigrees or provenance suggest possibly only
two survive. A third example may also exist, though its provenance is uncertain.
One example whose provenance is proven is held by Donald Groves
Partrick, a former president of the American Numismatic Society, who
has held his example for nearly four decades.
The second example, graded Proof 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.,
was last sold at public auction in the early 1970s by Kagin’s. The
same piece is being offered by Heritage at its Long Beach auction.
Walter Breen in his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial
Proof Coins 1722-1977, and revised 1989 edition, suggests three
examples exist, although one reference may duplicate one of the two
pieces whose pedigrees can be definitively traced.
In his Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents 1793-1857, Breen
states, “For long, the existence of this variety was controversial,”
without explaining the controversy.
“It is still the rarest of all die combinations among the
Proof-only dates, being rarer than the 1831 or 1836 with small
berries, or the 1852 with large berries,” Breen wrote in his half cent reference.
In his Proof coin reference, Breen writes that the restrikes
represented pieces under an umbrella “more or less associated with
regular designs, but now known to have been specially made, in the
year of date or some later year, not for legitimate pattern or
experimental purposes, nor as part of the regular yearly proof sets,
not as true transitional proposed issues, but for purposes of
surreptitious sale on behalf of venal employees in the Coiner’s Department.”
Numismatists identify two categories of Proof half cents: the
“Originals,” struck for collector sales in the years in which the
coins are dated, and the “Restrikes,” struck decades after the
Original coins in order to meet continued collector demand. The
Restrikes are further categorized as First Restrikes and Second
Restrikes, the two subcategories distinguished by the periods during
which they were struck.
Proof half cents were struck from 1831 to 1836 and again from 1840
through 1857 inclusive, for sale to the growing number of collectors
in the United States. Half cents were also struck for circulation,
though not annually, during that period. Production for 11 of those
years — 1836, 1840 to 1848 inclusive, and 1852 — were of Proof-only strikes.
According to the Heritage auction lot description, the
Philadelphia Mint struck the First Restrike pieces in the mid-1850s,
perhaps 1856 or 1857, and produced the Second Restrike pieces from
1858 to 1860, or possibly later.
Various diagnostic points have been identified to distinguish
Originals from the Restrikes, and to distinguish between the two
restrike subcategories. Among the important characteristics used in
identifying a particular coin’s status are the berries in the wreath
on the reverse and the presence or lack of doubling on the letters of cent.
Original Proofs depict large, sharply visible berries on the
reverse wreath. Both First and Second Restrikes exhibit small berries
resembling dots in the wreath.
Variations among the letters on the reverse are also used as diagnostics.
First Restrike half cents have the right upright of the t in cent
doubled, while the Second Restrikes have a normal t but clearly
visible die file lines over the letters rica in america. Original
Proofs bear no doubling in the lettering of cent.
For more information about the auction, visit Heritage Numismatic
Auctions online at www.ha.com, write
the firm at 3500 Maple Ave., 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219-3941 or
telephone Heritage either at 800-872-6467 or 214-528-3500. ■