Two mid-century half dollars were standouts at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 15 Rarities Night auction at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.
Classic era silver commemorative half dollars struck between 1892 and 1954 have been in a bit of a slump lately, with many market makers saying that the area provides solid potential for future growth. There’s a rich diversity of designs and subjects, and most survive in attractive Mint State grades and in the large quantities necessary to the needs of marketers.
The very pinnacle of the classic commemorative coin market remains hot, as seen by a 1936 York County, Maine, Tercentenary commemorative half dollar graded Mint State 69 by Professional Coin Grading Service and bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker that sold for an astounding $102,000.
The well-produced coin with a mintage of 25,015 pieces “comes nice” and even MS-67 examples can be found for under $300 with some looking. PCGS has graded 32 in MS-68, four in MS-68+. This example is the sole finest-known. Even more impressive, the catalog entry notes, “It is also one of the finest survivors from the entire Silver Classic Commemoratives series, ranking as one of just nine coins graded MS-69 out of 439,036 pieces certified by PCGS across all [classic commemorative] issues.”
Beyond technical perfection, with a bold strike, uniform satiny luster and a near-total absence of any contact marks, it has remarkable toning. The cataloger wrote, “The obverse features a gradual but intense rainbow of color that progresses from gold and yellow at the right border to magenta, emerald, and blue to the lower left. A vibrant yellow hue dominates the reverse, while rich crimson and sapphire surrounds in the peripheries. The surfaces remain virtually perfect, showcasing uniform satiny luster across each side.” It’s a definite “wow” coin, and the price is even more remarkable considering that Heritage offered a nicely toned PCGS MS-68+ example with a green CAC sticker earlier this year at its January Florida United Numismatists auction, and that one brought “just” $9,000.
1964 SMS half dollar
Also, 1964 Special Mint set finish coins have been all the rage of late. One, a Kennedy half dollar, graded Specimen 68 by PCGS sold for $156,000, setting a record for the most valuable nonerror modern U.S. coin ever sold at auction.
One of around a dozen known, the mysterious 1964 issue has the SMS finish seen on 1965 to 1967 issues, despite an absence of U.S. Mint records documenting any official SMS sets struck in 1964. Stack’s Bowers explained, “It is the key issue of the Kennedy half dollar series, representing a holy grail for specialists and advanced PCGS Registry Set participants.”