Classic Numismatic Rarity Highlights Heritage Long Beach Auction

Press Release – January 21, 2008
Classic Numismatic Rarity Highlights Heritage Long Beach Auction
1838-O Reeded Edge Half Branch Mint PR63 is Among the Most Sought-After Coins in American Numismatic History

Dallas, TX: One of numismatics’ most sought-after rarities, the 1838-O Reeded Edge Half Branch Mint, graded PR63 by PCGS, will highlight the Official Auction of the February 2008 Long Beach Coin Expo, presented by Heritage Auction Galleries. The auction dates are February 13-16, 2008, and the auction will be held at the Long Beach (CA) Convention Center.

“By any standard used to define the term ‘rarity,’ the 1838-O Reeded Edge Half Dollar surely qualifies,” said Greg Rohan, President of Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries. “No more than 20 of these remarkably well struck coins were ever minted, many of which were distributed as gifts or souvenirs by mint officials, although it’s unclear whether these were intended as proof coins, business strikes, or die trial pieces. If the 1838-O halves were distributed as proofs, several pieces were not handled as such over time, as several are considered circulated or impaired proofs, grading in the PR40 to PR50 range. Even the Smithsonian example from the Mint cabinet is a cleaned coin. Whatever its origins, there’s no doubt that the1838-O half dollar is an extraordinary coin to behold, both in terms of beauty and absolute rarity.”

“The particular coin that we’re presenting in our Long Beach auction,” Rohan continued, “the Atwater specimen, is special not only because of its rarity, but also because of its wonderful state of preservation. Some specialists believe that this coin is the finest known of the 11 traced examples, despite the grade assigned by PCGS. The coin has light, even, pleasing steel-gray toning over fully reflective surfaces, suggestive of a PR64 or even better coin. It is likely that the first U.S. half dollar coin to reach the million dollar mark will be an 1838-O half and, considering the current renaissance in classic U.S. numismatic rarities, it may happen sooner than later. The specimen offered here provides a rare opportunity for the connoisseur to acquire a legendary coin that holds a permanent position on the landscape of classic American numismatic rarities and is perhaps unimprovable in terms of quality.”

More information about the 1838-O Half Dollar can be found at the Heritage website,, including enlargeable, full-color images and a complete catalog description.