Branch Mint Proof coin brings $158,625

1855-S Seated Liberty half dollar one of three known
By Paul Gilkes
Published : 02/18/14
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One of just three known 1855-S Seated Liberty, With Arrows half dollars confirmed as a Branch Mint Proof sold for $158,625 in Heritage Auctions’ Feb. 3 and 4 sale in New York.

Certified as Proof 65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the coin, WB-1 (as cataloged in A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Varieties), was one of the top highlights among those offered in floor sessions over the two days.

In total, 2,486 lots sold, 98.57 percent of the total lots offered. The lots sold brought prices realized of $11,539,239, which includes the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee.

The coin previously appeared at auction in Stack’s November 1955 sale of the Farish Baldenhofer Collection and has appeared at auction at least seven times since, according to the catalog description which calls the piece a “numismatic showpiece” combining “beauty, rarity, and historical importance.”

Bugert notes in A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Varieties that the coin is absent drapery at Liberty’s elbow, a result of heavy die polishing prior to striking.

“Proofs and early business strikes have no clash marks,” writes Bugert. “The no drapery characteristic resulted from the special die preparation for proof strikes.”

On each of the four digits in the date, the bottom portions are weak, especially on the 8 and first 5. This weakness is noted on this piece and on the example in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. Bugert examined the museum’s example in 1989 and evaluated its level of preservation at Proof 63+.

For more details about the auction, visit Heritage Auctions online at www.ha.com or telephone Heritage at 800-872-6467. ■

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1 comment
Although I am not really aware of the history of this coin, from what I gather it should be confiscated as it seems that it was taken from the mint illegally, by someone in management at that time. Nobody should be able to sell and make a large profit on a coin that was not put into circulation or from a coin that was made as a sample.