David Akers: For many years, the 1897-O was considered to be one of the greatest rarities in the entire series; in fact, it was thought to be at the same rarity level as the 1896-O, 1901-O, 1901-S and a number of other issues. Much of this thinking, of course, was due to the issue's low mintage of only 632,000 pieces. It is true that in circulated grades this is one of the most difficult to obtain of all the Barber Half issues; however, in recent years, say the last 15-20, it has become apparent that the 1897-O is not quite as rare in Gem condition as previously thought, at least not when compared to some other issues of the series. However, rarity is a relative concept to a large degree, and although it may no longer be correct to consider the 1897-O one of the rarest issues of the Barber Half Dollar series in Gem condition, it is certainly very scarce, if not rare, in terms of the total number of such specimens known.
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