David Akers called the 1896 Half Dollar "the rarest P Mint Barber Half Dollar of the decade, especially in Gem condition." Decades later, how does the 1896 compare with other dates from the 1890's?
These are P-Mint dates with larger populations than the 1896 in MS65 and higher (based on the PCGS Population Report):
1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1898, and 1899. Wait, that seems to be ALL of them -- thus, Mr. Akers was correct.
How did he know this back in the "raw days" before the population reports had matured and fleshed out? The answer is "experience." Akers was at the top of his game and helped build several of the greatest Barber Half Dollar collections, including those of Drs. Thaine Price and Steven Duckor. Akers knew how difficult (or easy) it was to find each of the dates because he was out there trying to locate the best of the best. His comments from long ago remain remarkably prescient today.