1806 50C Pointed 6, Stem MS63. O-120a, R.4. A huge mintage of 839,576 Draped Bust half dollars was achieved in 1806, with 28 die varieties known for the date. A collection of 1806 die varieties and states would provide a monumental challenge. The O-120 reverse is one of those few numismatic situations where virtually every surviving coin could be considered a slightly different die state. This scarce variety is most easily identified by the die crack above the hair of Liberty on the obverse, and especially on the reverse by the broken patch on the shield, which gives the coin a special character not found on other varieties. Known as the Broken Shield variety, in its intermediate and late die states this variety is instantly recognized by (and popular for) the unusual, heavy die break, or "cud." A large piece broke out of the die right across the shield on the reverse, atop the fourth vertical stripe of the shield its earliest stages of progression. In later die states, this cud eventually extends across the shield until only the first vertical stripe is unaffected. This example is an intermediate state and is much earlier than that plated in the Parsley/Overton book. The shield die break encompasses all or part of three vertical stripes. The die break extends from pale 2 of gule 3 to a point midway between gules 5 and 6. Another break joins the left part of the first two horizontal shield stripes. Two die cracks join the border to the right ribbon end below M of AMERICA. These start at the same point on the border, with one crack following the right diagonal of the A, the other curving through M, with the area between these just beginning to sink into a retained cud. An additional crack extends through the tops of UNITE to the border over D. Many diagnostic die cracks are evident, including the crack across the tail feathers and the crack from the leaf to the base of RI. A couple light scratches in the right obverse fields serve to mark the pedigree of this piece, an intricately struck half dollar that lacks consequential abrasions. The actual design elements on each side of this lovely Draped Bust half dollar are boldly defined, within the context of the design type, with a well-centered impression and full obverse and reverse border details. The strike is crisp and full, with clear details even on the eagle's breast feathers, although a few of the upper hair details are weakly defined, as nearly always. The dusky grayish-silver colored obverse has considerable underlying mint luster, with iridescent tones of gold, pastel pink, sky blue and sea green circling the borders. The reverse has similar toning throughout and shimmering luster, swirling atop exceptional surfaces with none of the scratches mentioned for the obverse. This Select Mint State coin is a phenomenal example of this scarce variety, and one of the two or three finest known of the die state.
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