Bowers and Merena. Toughest date in the series in mint state by latest population reports, and has been so for quite some time. When the Lawrence text on Barber halves first appeared in the early 1990's, the 1904-S held a slight lead over the 1896-O and 1901-S as the coin in the series with fewest known certified by PCGS and NGC. These three are still at or near the top, but with the 1896-O now holding first place. We bought this coin directly from Q David Bowers as a retail purchase and we are pleased to have a coin purchased from this expert among coin dealers and writers of fine numismatic works. This exceptional coin is eye appealing and original with some focal light gold color and decent strike. A few patchy toning areas on the reverse help to distinguish this coin from other examples of the date. Long recognized as a key date in the series in mint state, examples in gem and up are truly rare. We would love to know the provence of the coin, perhaps it is from one of the famous early collections. A very tough date and not yet valued as high as the 04-S in equal gem grades. We have owned other examples in MS 64, and many we have seen in MS 64 and above have weak strikes as is sometimes seen for the O-mint products. We hope to some day establish a pedigree for this most important coin.
David Akers: Among the 74 Barber Half Dollar issues, the 1896-O has long been prized as one of the rarest and most elusive issues. Look over the great auction sales of the past 50 years or so, and I think you will be surprised how seldom the 1896-O has been offered in Gem condition. Such high priced rarities as 1892-S, 1893-S and 1895 Morgan Dollars, and 1921-S Half Dollars have all appeared with far greater regularity in Gem condition than have not only this Barber Half Dollar issue but many of the other issues in this series as well.
Bowers & Merena "Emery & Nichols Collections 11/1984:806 - David Akers 8/1995 - Dr. Steven Duckor - Heritage 8/2010:3186, $37,375
Dr. Thaine Price - David Akers 5/1989:137 - John C. Hugon - Heritage 1/2005:4212, $29,900 - Heritage 7/2008:1705, $51,750 - Joseph C. Thomas Collection - Heritage 4/2009:2492, $28,750
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