US Coins

One of two 1806 O-108 half dollars with die break

The 1806 Draped Bust, Knobbed 6, No Stem Through Claw half dollar is considered to be the “Holy Grail” among varieties for the series.

Attributed as Overton 108 in the expanded and updated revision of United States Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836 by Al C. Overton (update by Donald Parsley), only seven examples are known of the die marriage.

Connect with Coin World:  

Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

Of the seven, just two examples exhibit the massive die break that appears above the letters of UNITED on the reverse.

The variety has a rarity rating of R-8, meaning one to three known, “Unique or nearly so,” according to the Parsley-Overton reference.

One of the examples bearing the die break — the coin once part of the Don Frederick Collection for more than three decades — is being offered in a mail-bid sale by Sheridan Downey from Sheridan’s Coins that closes Aug. 2.

Graded Very Good 8 by Professional Coin Grading Service, the coin carries an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.

Placement in history

The variety earned its moniker from the knobbed 6 in the date on the coin’s obverse and the olive stem on the reverse that does not extend through the eagle’s claw.

The O-108 marriage is the only 1806 Knobbed 6 variety to bear the No Stem Through Claw reverse. 

According to Downey, the Frederick specimen surfaced circa 1976 in Hawaii, about the same time as another example was discovered in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Downey writes in his mail-bid sale lot description that Frederick knew only one of the then three known 1806 O-108 coins came from the terminal die state.

Frederick negotiated a purchase via private treaty in January 1977 for an undisclosed price.

Frederick held on to his 1806 O-108 coin for more than three decades before consigning it and other early U.S. half dollars in July 2008 to Heritage Auctions.

Frederick’s coin was purchased at the auction for $25,300 by a dealer who had PCGS grade and encapsulate the coin before selling the coin to a collector for an undisclosed price.

“Since 2008 only one other 1806 O-108 has appeared at auction — the ‘El Paso’ coin, uncovered in 1979, and introduced to collectors circa 1995 as ANACS VF-30,” according to Downey’s lot description. “It has appeared at auction three times in its current PCGS EF-40 capsule, first in 2003, then in 2009 and last in the Stack’s[Bowers]/Sotheby Pogue I sale of May 2015.

“Sale prices ranged from $86,000 to $126,000. The charisma, rarity and value of the ‘06-108’ is usually compared to its Capped Bust equivalent, the 1817/4.”

Community Comments