US Coins

Goldbergs auction offers 1802/0 Draped Bust half cent

The Green Tree Collection of United States Half Cents, headlining Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers’ Feb. 18 to 21 Pre-Long Beach Auction at its offices in Los Angeles, offers a coin whose rarity overcomes its battered appearance.

While not much to look at in terms of condition, one of the rarest offerings in the collection is an 1802/0 Draped Bust, Reverse of 1800 half cent graded Professional Coin Grading Service About Good Details, Damaged. The damage is obvious, most notably a small, crude puncture near the dentils off the lower end of Liberty’s hair ribbon on the obverse.

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The description adds, “Daylight does not show through the puncture, but it certainly catches your eye.” Additional small digs on the obverse that were strong enough to cause two tiny bumps at the opposing areas on the reverse are also seen. On a more positive note, the surfaces are otherwise smooth and free of corrosion and the date is clear.

The coin speaks to the resourcefulness employed by workmen at the early Philadelphia Mint. The extremely rare variety was created when a previously unused 1800-dated obverse die was overdated by punching a 2 over the final 0. A reverse die previously used in 1800 with a line of die rust from the E in UNITED to the wreath was also reused to create this die marriage.

Few examples have survived in any grades. An example considered possibly the finest known, graded Very Fine 30 by PCGS, sold for $97,750 at the Goldbergs’ January 2014 Pre-Long Beach sale as part of the Missouri Cabinet, considered by specialists to be the finest U.S. half cent collection ever assembled.

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The subject coin was offered in September 2010 as part of The Davy Collection of Half Cent Errors, in an auction by McCawley & Grellman Auctions and the Goldbergs, where it sold for $9,200 against a very modest estimate of $500 and up. It was also previously offered in an Oct. 17, 1972, fixed-price list by Roger S. Cohen Jr., and previous owners included William K. Raymond, Ralph Pfau, and Jon Hanson. The 2018 lot description notes that the “Davy” Collection is actually R. Tettenhorst, who assembled the Missouri Cabinet Collection in collaboration with Eric P. Newman.

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