P. Scott Rubin: The 1852 Proof Large Berries Half Cent is one of the rarest and most desirable coins in the Half Cent denomination. With a believed population of only five coins, one of which was heavily circulated puts this coin in the high Rarity 7 class on the Sheldon rarity scale.
What makes this coin even more interesting is all other Proof Half Cents starting in 1840 thru 1849 with Large Berry reverses are considered Original, meaning struck in the in the year they are dated. Yet when it comes to the 1852 specimens many experts, Walter Breen included, believe that the Original 1852 Half Cents should have a reverse with Small Berries. The main reason for this belief is that while there were no circulation issues of Half Cents from 1840 to 1848, by 1849 circulated issues were struck with Small Berries as were Proofs of 1850 and 1851.
It appears that the only way we will ever know what the 1852 Original Half Cent reverse looked like is if we were to have an Original untouched Proof Set of the year 1852 turn up from some long forgotten collection. I for one believe it is just as possible that in 1852 the Half Cent was struck with Large Berries as Small Berries. It should be remembered that the minting of Restrike Half Cents of 1840 and later did not begin until probably 1858.
While all of this is interesting the fact is that it is much easier to obtain an 1852 Half Cent with Small Berries than it is to own one of only five 1852 Large Berry Half Cents. The record price for this coin as of 2014 is the PCGS graded Proof(65) Red specimen sold by the Goldberg’s with Grellman and McCawley in the January 26, 2014 sale of the Missouri Cabinet Collection for $603,750. This collection was unique in that it contained a specimen of every known variety of Half Cent, including many finest known specimens; this was a combined collection of R. Tettenhorst and the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
R. C. W. Brock Collection - University of Pennsylvania - Phillip H. Ward, Jr. - C. J. Dochkus - Harry J. Foreman - R. L. Miles, Jr. Colledction - Stack's 4/1969:69, $6,000 - Hathaway & Bowers Galleries - Spink & Son, Ltd. - Norweb Collection - Bowers & Merena 10/1987:128 - James R. McGuigan, traded 10/1987as part of a multi-coin exchange - R. Tettenhorst - Eric P. Newman Education Society/Missouri Cabinet (Mocab 52.1.1) - Goldbergs 1/2014:204, $603,750