Newly Discovered Proof 1830 Bust Half (Grade Posted, Not Proof)
Just wanted to share this piece that I recently purchased raw from Europe. I bought it sight-unseen based on a scanned photo, but I was hedging on it being a proof due to the extremely detailed strike (see: stars and upper hair curl), the way the light appeared to reflect off of the devices overall, and the very heavy strike doubling to the left of the portrait.
Borrowing from the item description in Heritage’s auction of the PR65 example of the date (now PR65+, and likewise discovered in Europe), here is the roster of the known individuals proofs of the date:
- PR65+ PCGS, O-110. A recent discovery in the collection of a European noble family, it was in the family collection since the mid-19th century until January, 2014. To our knowledge it has never been in the hands of a U.S. collector since it was minted (per Marc Emory, December 1, 2013 email). The present coin.
- Gem Brilliant Proof, O-108. Dr. Christian Allenburger Collection (B. Max Mehl, 3/1948), lot 865; John Jay Pittman; Pittman Collection, Part II (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1494; Medio-Gomez Collections (American Numismatic Rarities, 6/2004), lot 4360; Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 12/2003), lot 351.
- PR64 NGC, O-111. Terrell Collection (American Auction Association, 5/1973), lot 837; Gary Burghoff Collection (Superior, 1/1980), lot 205; Massachusetts Historical Society Sale (Bowers and Merena, 11/19994), lot 2252; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/1999), lot 125; ANA Sale of the Millennium (Bowers and Merena, 8/2000), lot 4111; Benson Collection, Part II (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 2/2002), lot 966; ANA Auction (Bowers and Merena, 7/2003), lot 1503; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 30217.
- PR63, O-117. ANA Sale (Kagin's, 8/1977), lot 1460; Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 663; L.W. Hoffecker Collection (Superior, 2/1987), lot 3158; Brilliant-Sieck Collections (Bowers and Merena, 1/1992), lot 347; George "Buddy" Byers Collection (Stack's, 10/2006), lot 1075.
- PR62+ Cameo PCGS, O-103. Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 10/1989), lot 602; Thomas Chalkley Collection (Superior, 1/1990), lot 3531; Chicago Sale (Superior, 8/1991), lot 509; Pittsburgh Signature (Heritage, 8/2004), lot 6215; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2013), lot 5635.
- Brilliant Proof, O-110. Public Auction Sale (Lester Merkin, 2/1971), lot 720; Reed Hawn Collection (Stack's, 8/1973), lot 93; Robison Collection (Stack's, 2/1982), lot 1589.
As you can see, except for the two O-110s, all of the dies used to strike these proofs are different. The present example is from yet another die, the O-107a (easily distinguishable by the obverse die cracks).
The photos below are of the coin as I received it. Unfortunately it was not stored very well over the last two centuries and was coated with a haze of PVC. Keeping the coin as is, PVC and all, would preserve the “original” look of the surfaces (though that original look is just a haze of PVC, and not patina) for the short-term, but would only allow that haze to dig deeper into the surfaces over time and damage it further. So, I neutralized it and removed the PVC. Upon doing so, it became clear that a decent amount of damage had been done to the surfaces by the PVC already, though the conservation also revealed a full cameo effect in the fields.
So in essence, I turned an original-looking (keyword: looking) coin that might pass as a 62 or plausibly even a 63 at a TPG, with the haze blocking any view of the surface issues, into what will probably be a 60, or if I am very lucky a 61CAM - but in doing so preserved the coin better for the long-term. Obviously I feel terrible about it, since there’s potentially a big difference in value and immediate eye appeal, but it was probably for the best in terms of future owners of the coin. I don’t have pics of how it looked after conservation, but I’m sure PCGS will get some nice TrueViews of it in about a week. Anyway, here it is:
Videos of each side: https://imgur.com/a/mYhZxQc