Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 15, and celebrated by going to find coins. To get a little discount, I brought my half dollars I bough for face value, and paid with them. With this in hand, I traveled around the coin dealers, until something struck my eye. Two very brilliant 1938-D buffalo nickels. Each had every minute detail, and made my other buffalo nickels seem unimportant for some reason. Full horns, shiny surface with no spots, and the small detail in the feathers. I thought I had gotten the deal of a lifetime, two of these for five Kennedy halves, until the dealer said," I am going to give you something you will never forget" and promptly handed me an 1836, lettered edge, half dollar. I had never seen so much kindness, I did not know what to say. I thanked him as much as I could, and I was ecstatic the rest of the day. I would grade it as Choice Very Fine 32. It's obverse is evenly colored, with the clasp bold, along with liberty standing out in front on the cap. what hindered this fine coin from probably making it to the EF-40 range was some even wear on the motto on the reverse. It was missing half the word Pluribus. The lettering on the edge was clear as day, and made me dive into the world of early half dollars.
The denomination of half a dollar is one of the earliest types of American Coinage. On April 2nd, 1792, the Mint Act was passed allowing the production of such coins and half Disme. The first official half dollar was minted in 1794 featuring the classic flowing hair design. These coins feature some of the first lettered edged coins of the time, but the process was slightly different from the modern golden dollars today. Minted for only two years, the start of early half dollars was underway. In 1796, the draped bust replaced the "old" flowing hair design of 1795, and was minted until 1807. Although minting was halted in 1798, and did not return until 1801. This design features the same clouds as the famed 1804 dollars. This design was replaced halfway through 1807 with John Reich's design of the capped Bust that would be featured on most denominations of coins. This design has many varieties, and includes the metered edge which the words are interrupted by small fractions of reeds, and non-reeded half dollars in which other small changes were displayed. This coin series had its design replaced once again in 1839. Another doubt-year for coinage in half dollars was 1839, in which the first seated liberty halves were struck, giving a new, somewhat frightened look on American coinage. Christian Gobrecht designed this dynasty of a design which was minted all the way until the Barber Family began disrupting the Mint's staffing and designing in 1892. These half dollars became the only half dollars to have the Carson City mintmark placed on the reverse. These early half dollars can be pricy depending on where you get them. I recommend a trusted dealer before making any sound investments, and beware for counterfeits. finding a nice example can be challenging but rewarding.
The half dollars have always been my favorite coin, and this generosity from a man I did not know personally, pushed my curiosity to another level. It became my most valuable coin, and my favorite 1800's coin because it is in such good condition. This just shows what kindness can do. And a Thank you to all the people who have donated items to the YN auction this coming September, and the monthly auction. Every YN enjoys the auction, and it provides a fun and entertaining way to educate and prepare for real auctions in the future.