David Lawrence 1999. Norweb coin 1988. Peake coin 1955. THE KING! Tied for the finest known with two other coins, the James Stack/Steven Duckor Coin, and the Emery-Nichols/Thane Price coin. David Akers related to me that at one time he owned all three of these top coins, buying them from the auctions directly when not very many collectors or dealers were interested in the series. Having viewed all three examples in MS 67, the Norweb coin is our personal favorite. This example has beautiful original toning with blues and greens. Essentially no planchet roller marks are found. The 1904-S is considered a key date in the series in MS 63 and up. Only two PCGS MS 66 coins are certified and one is the Eliasberg/Friend coin. This example replaced the PCGS MS 62 (ex-ANACS 62) example that was bought early in the building of the set. Even an MS 62 coin is a real "keeper" in this series and served to hold a place in the set when it was being targeted at MS 63-64. The MS 62 piece was used for trade towards the purchase of the current coin from John Feigenbaum of DLRC. In the first book on Barber halves written by David Lawrence Feigenbaum, John's father, the 1904-S was the rarest Barber half in mint state. This position has been superseded by the 1896-O, but the 1904-S remains in the top 3 rarest (besides the 1892-O micro O) in the set. This coin is definitely the centerpiece for our collection. Price evaluations for the 1904-S are best gleaned from Coin Facts, auction records, and eBay sales as this date seldom comes up at auction and prices generally are much higher than many of the published lists. Trying to buy a decent example in mint state without such knowledge will likely be unsuccessful. Anyone putting Barber half dollar sets together in grades over VG or F will encounter the 1904-S as a more difficult date to find. In nice VF to AU the coin is priced strong, and because of this, many more have been certified in these grades than most other dates in the set. This skews the population numbers as is seen in other examples of rare coins (particularly noteworthy for the 1901-S quarter).
David Akers: With the exception of the 1892-O Micro O variety, the 1904-S Barber Half Dollar is by far the rarest issue of the series in terms of overall mint state rarity. In Gem condition, this issue is extremely rare...
James A. Stack - Stack's 3/1975:612 - Stack's 3/1984:788 - David Akers 11/1992 - Dr. Steven Duckor - Heritage 8/2010:3211, $138,000
San Francisco Mint - Bowers & Merena 11/1984:830 - Paramount “Auction '85” 7/1985:1242 - Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection - David Akers 5/1998:162 - John C. Hugon Collection - Heritage 1/2005:4237, $92,000 - Joseph C. Thomas Collection - Heritage 1/2011:5580, $126,500
Peake Collection - New Netherlands 6/1955:719 - Norweb - Bowers & Merena 11/1988:3634 - Heritage 1/1999:6792 - David Lawrence - Dr. Peter Shireman
San Francisco Mint - J.M. Clapp - John H. Clapp - Clapp Estate (1942) - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. - Bowers & Merena 4/1997:2102 - Stellar Collection - Dale Friend - Heritage 1/2009:3895,$80,500 - Heritage 9/2009:809, $74,750