Heritage. Bought directly from an auction. Nice, nearly white and very lustrous coin. This issue is very tough, not quite as bad as the mint marked coins for the same year, but really not that far behind. The O and S mint coins have been known to be semi key dates for a long time, but not so the P mint. The Duckor example is the finest known, and brought a deserved large premium price when sold at auction. Our experience is that the certified PCGS population of 13 at this grade of MS 65 seems inflated, as not very many auction appearances or private sale offers have been seen to match this number. Look at teh Heritage Auction archives for the 1896 and you will see very few gem or better coins have been sold at auction through their firm. This suggests to me that there may be coins that have been submitted multiple times in an attempt to get higher grades, and the previous tags not returned, thus leading to an excessively high population number. We have been on the lookout for upgrade examples and they just don't ever seem to be available. Over the years of building this set we have seen very few coins of the year 1896 in grades MS 66 and better. All three of the coins for 1896 in our set are MS 65, which is a reflection of the difficulty of finding nice examples in any better condition. Even finding an 1896 in MS 65 is difficult (again, despite the population report stating 13 in MS 65). Only four finer are known.
David Akers: In my experience, this is the rarest P Mint Barber Half Dollar of the decade, especially in Gem condition, and it is even more rare than many of the more highly regarded mintmarked issues of the series.