Laibstain. Northern Bay collection (Stacks), formerly in New England Rare Coin Auction 1975, lot 602. Tied for finest known with three other coins and has a beautiful bluish tint over the lustrous surfaces. Strongly struck and a known classic tough date for Barber Halves along with 96-O and 96-S, and 97-O (and others). This beautiful half dollar is a pleasure to behold, one of the old-time classic known rarities of the set, in superb gem condition. This is a date that in good or better condition is a hard to find coin, carrying a premium over the common dates, in all grades. This is clearly a high-end example that was carefully preserved since its striking over 115 years ago.
David Akers: At one time, the 1897-S Barber Half Dollar was considered to be one of the most important rarities of the series, roughly comparable to the 1897-O, the 1896-S and the 1896-O. Over the years, however, our perceptions of rarity have changed and, of course, more information is now available as to the relative rarity of the various issues in the series. With this new information, it is now clear that the 1897-S is considerably more rare in Gem condition than the 1897-O, but not quite as rare as either of the two mintmarked 1896 issues. Although not quite in the upper echelon of Barber Half Dollar issues with respect to condition rarity, the 1897-S still must be considered very rare in Gem condition in an absolute sense. Furthermore, I would stress here that virtually every Barber Half Dollar, excepting only a handful of issues, is at least rare in Gem condition, and at the superb, virtually flawless quality level..., even the most common date Barber Half Dollar can be considered a major rarity since other than the 1908-O and 1892, no more than one or two examples exist of almost any issue.
Purchased by J.M. Clapp directly from the San Francisco Mint 11/1897 - John H. Clapp - Clapp estate 1942 - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. - Bowers & Merena 4/1997:2081, $15,950 - John C. Hugon - Heritage 1/2005:4216, $19,550