Coins Certified as of 1/17

My Coin #19806489

1892-O 50C Micro O MS65

PCGS#: 6463

Owner's Comments

Laibstain. Very nice surfaces under the medium toning. Proof-like as most uncirculated examples are, but the surfaces come alive when the coin is tipped. Very rare date variety first described by Heaton in 1893. Wrong-sized O mint mark put on die and discovered fairly quickly. Only about 70 examples are known per extensive study from Mike Flanagan, done through the Barber Collectors Society and published in their journal, and confirmed by the population reports of PCGS. Someone compared the mint mark used and determined it likely to be one used on some 1893-O quarters, as the mint mark is thicker on one side of the "o" than the other, in most examples, but there may truly be two different varieties of the micro O mint mark. I have seen a high-grade mint state example that is missing the characteristic die crack (perhaps an earlier die state), and have seen lower grade examples with different morphology of the mint marks (doesn't look like it is just circulation wear to me). The mint mark punches used for the 1892-O quarter had a different morphology than what is seen on the micro O half dollars. The finest example is the Eliasberg/Friend example in MS 68 followed by the MS 67 James Stack/Atwater example, then two MS 65 coins including this one and the former Duckor coin. Ours had been sold in a previous sale by Superior Galleries featuring coins of Jascha Heifetz, but this coin was not one that he owned. Additional write-up is available on Coin Facts. There are other examples out there waiting to be found of this rare and valuable coin; a cherry picker's dream. In the past 10-15 years or so I am aware of at least three low-grade coins found by collectors; at least two were found in low-grade sets. An example with little wear was found that had been made into jewelry and the soldered-on pin clasp has now been removed (certified genuine). Keep your eyes open and you may find one, too (I was the lucky finder of a raw AG3 coin previously not known, and it was certified AG3 by PCGS).

Expert Comments

Ron Guth: The 1892-O Micro O half dollar is the rarest in the Barber half dollar series. It is believed that the mintmark punch used by the engraver was meant for a quarter dollar rather than the half dollar. A population study was undertaken about 2003 by a member of the Barber Collectors Society (Michael Flanagan) and he published all known examples (certified and raw) for a total of just over 50 coins.

The 1892-O Micro O half dollar is usually well struck but often comes with a bit of weakness in the upper right shield and on the eagle's wing. Uncirculated examples often have proof-like or semi proof-like fields. A die crack through the date is seen in most examples. It is believed that the improperly-sized mintmark was discovered fairly early and that the die was then taken out of service, thus accounting for the relatively few examples that are known. This variety was discovered not very long afterwards and examples were sought even in the early 1900s.

-- Contributed by Dr. Peter Shireman

Gordon Wrubel: Quickfinder Notes: The discovery of the variety has been credited to prominent numismatist, Howard R. Newcomb of Detroit, Michigan in 1914.

The Micro O can be identified not only by the its small size, but more importantly, the SHAPE of its Mint Mark. The left wall of the O is VERY THIN, while the right wall is VERY THICK. It is actually at least twice as thick as the left wall. Also the interior of the mint mark is shaped like an upright FOOTBALL. These features are diagnostic and can even be seen on well worn coins. The regular size 1892-O mint mark has EVEN SIDE WALLS and the interior is OVAL shaped, like the O in the word DOLLAR below it.
The Micro O is very rare. It is estimated that less than 100 exist in all grades. It may come as a surprise to some observers that several Mint State specimens exist. But one has to remember that this was a First Year issue and many were saved as souvenirs.

Diameter: 30.00 millimeters Designer: Charles E. Barber Edge: Reeded
Mintage: 390,000 Weight: 12.50 grams Metal Content: 90% Silver, 10% Copper

Rarity and Survival Estimates

Grades Survival Estimate Numismatic Rarity Relative Rarity by Type Relative Rarity by Series
All Grades 85 R-8.1 1 / 74 1 / 74
60 or Better 20 R-9.1 1 / 74 1 / 74
65 or Better 8 R-9.6 1 / 74 1 / 74

Condition Census

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS68 PCGS grade

J. Colvin Randall Collection - Lyman H. Low 7/1903:969 - John M. Clapp Collection - John H. Clapp Collection, sold intact in 1942 - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 4/1997:2065, $59,400 - Dale Friend Collection - Heritage 1/2009:3867, not sold

2 MS67 PCGS grade  

William C. Atwater Collection - B. Max Mehl 6/1946:581 - James A. Stack Collection - Stack’s 3/1975:572 - Queller Family Collection of U.S. Half Dollars - Stack’s 10/2002:723, $80,500 - American Numismatic Rarities 7/2005:1186, $97,750

4 MS65 PCGS grade

Hollinbeck Coin Co., sold privately in 5/1960 - R.E. Cox, Jr. Collection - Stack's 4/1962:2044 - David Akers, sold privately in 2004 - Dr. & Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Barber Half Dollar Collection - Heritage 8/2010:3174, $80,500

4 MS65 PCGS grade

Superior 1/1989:4524 - Superior 10/1989:3770, $20,900 - Heritage 5/2008:743, $92,000 - Harry Laibstain, sold privately on 5/28/2008 - Dr. & Mrs. Peter K. Shireman Collection - Heritage 1/2016:5382, $85,188

6 MS64 estimated grade  

Paramount 1975:870 - Paramount “Auction ‘86” 7/1986:1659 - Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection - David Akers 5/1998:125 $55,000 - John C. Hugon Collection - Heritage 1/2005:4200, $69,000 - Joseph C. Thomas Collection - Heritage 1/2011:5571, $63,250 - Heritage 6/2011:3674, not sold