Laibstain. The normal sized "O" mint mark. A very pretty coin with colorful natural toning that enhances smooth surfaces of this low mintage early date. Even in low grades, the 92-O is highly praised for its low population and low survival, making it an important coin in any grade. Despite the low mintage, more were saved in EF and AU and low mint state grades because of first year of issue, than otherwise would have been. In MS 64 and above, the date is very tough and at the level of MS 66 like this coin, it is among few peers. The O mint coins are from New Orleans and throughout the series of Barber Halves, there are some weak strikes. Strike weakness is usually noted on the obverse in the detail of the hair of the forehead and the stars, and on the reverse on a vertical line running through the right side of the shield and eagle's left talons. Reverse weakness is also noted in the neck feathers of the eagle and the foot and talons of the eagles' right foot. The O mint coins have the most variability in strike and finding one with a strong strike is challenging, but rewarding. Often the pricing is similar between coins graded the same numerical grade, but with different strikes. There are certain dates in the series that have notoriously weak strikes, such as some of the middle year dates, but early dates like 1893 and 1894 can also show notoriously weak strikes. Mintage figures for the Barber Half series in mint state are not very important, particularly in trying to predict the numbers of mint state survivors. The percentage of surviving coins in mint state only seems to have a weak association to the number minted for any given issue. The mintages do relate better to surviving coins in circulated condition as one would expect. Survival of mint state issues also relates to the time period in which these coins were produced. There were far more coin collectors in 1915 than in 1892, and the popularity of collecting coins from each mint increased in this time period due to the published work of Heaton on mint marks. The production of coin "boards" with holes for each issue also encouraged collectors to build sets with coins from all the different mints.
David Akers: Only 390,000 pieces were minted of this issue, the lowest mintage figure of any branch mint Barber Half Dollar, and the lowest mintage of the entire series prior to 1913. The 1892-O is not quite as rare as the low mintage would imply, however, and average to Choice Uncirculated examples are only scarce, not rare. In Gem condition, though, the 1892-O is definitely rare...
Thaine Price - David Akers 5/1998:124 - John C. Hugon - Heritage 1/2005:4199, $103,500 - Simpson Collection
Fred Porter Collection - Charles Steigerwalt 12/1893 - J.M. Clapp Collection - John H. Clapp Collection, sold intact in 1942 - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 4/1997:2064, $18,700 - American Numismatic Rarities 6/2005:78, $37,375 - Eugene H. Gardner Collection - Heritage 6/2014:30548, $64,625
Harry Laibstain - Dr. Peter Shireman
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