Have You Ever Seen A Coin & Thought "I Have Something Really Similar..."
Have you ever seen a coin and thought to yourself that you have something really similar in your own collection...or maybe not quite so similar as you initially remember? This evening I was doing some research and came across a Barber half dollar that looked mighty familiar to me, even though I realized I had neither owned it nor examined it in-hand. The "new" coin was close enough a match to what I recalled of mine that I opened up both images and was a little surprised at some of the similarities.
The coin in question is a 1909 Barber half dollar. The issue itself is pretty darn generic for the Barber half dollar series and is relatively common (again, compared to other dates within the series) through gem. These coins were issued well before the advent of US Mint Sets and most contemporary collectors either did not collect full sets of coins and/or did not collect mint state pieces and/or did not collect half dollars as this was a lot of face value to salt away and even more to put away if uncirculated coins had to be procured. As such, although the date is common within the series, I wouldn't exactly call it an easy date to find in a PCGS holder in gem, with only 65-coins graded MS65 and 19 graded higher.
The coin I came across is a PCGS MS67/CAC and is a pop 1 coin at PCGS with none graded that high at NGC. It has a PCGS value of $52,500 and was sold via Legend Rare Coin Auctions less than a year ago for $44,650. That's a chunk of change! Oh, yes, it also currently resides in the DL Hansen Barber Half Dollar Collection. As you can imagine, it is pretty darn nice. My coin, on the other hand, is only a PCGS MS65/CAC OGH that I acquired about a decade ago in a dealer-to-dealer transaction at the FUN show. I saw the coin that I currently own in a dealer's display case, but the dealer had stepped away and left the case locked and under the watchful eye of his dealer-neighbor. I called the dealer up and asked him to return as the dealer-neighbor and I chatted and I immediately pointed to the coin in question and purchased it without hesitation after only a few moments of examination. The price to me was just over $3,000 and this was only a tiny bit below what a PCGS MS66/CAC coin would cost for the date and was about $1,000-$1,250 more than what a far, far inferior PCGS MS65/CAC coin would have cost. In either case, the PCGS MS66/CAC and PCGS MS65/CAC coins would have been less nice, in my opinion, than this PCGS MS65 OGH (it hadn't yet been submitted for a CAC sticker) coin.
Since then I have sent the coin to CAC where it received its sticker. Now, it has a permanent place, at least for as long as I have any say in it, in my collection. I'd like to caution everyone that you won't see twin coins and you won't be scratching your heads as to which coin graded higher. The DL Hansen coin has cleaner overall surfaces and appears to possibly have "harder" surfaces that might lend a PL-ish appearance to the coin whereas my piece has perhaps a more pebbled or textured field that may produce better luster when rotated under a light. However, what initially caught my eye about the DL Hansen coin is the toning. Both the colors and the pattern of toning are unusual for the date and also unusual for the greater population of extant, MS Barber half dollars. These coins were not sold in mint sets and when they haven't been dipped they often are found with intermingled shades of blue-grey or with black spots or covered in various amounts of brown speckles. The two coins in question could hardly be called "rainbow", but they have more pronounced colors and more variety of color than the great bulk of mint state Barber half dollars. They also have color in similar areas with both pieces being essentially untoned behind the portrait of Ms. Liberty and having the obverse toning show most clearly along the rim in front of the portrait while the reverses are mostly untoned with the color predominantly along the rim and lower portion.
Their somewhat similar appearance, or strongly similar appearance based upon the series, makes me wonder if these two coins might have spent significant time together somewhere decades ago only to be separated during a collection liquidation or estate sale. While that might be fun to surmise, I have absolutely no evidence it is the case and, absent an old auction catalog that could place them together, this could never be more than an entertaining theory. Regardless, while the DL Hansen coin is clearly the higher graded and more valuable piece and likely has greater eye appeal for most folks, I think they make a nice pair-
PS: A word of caution! After I typed this all out and had to upload the images, I decided to copy the entirety of the text in case it disappeared when I loaded images and that is exactly what happened! Thankfully, since it was all copied, I merely pasted it above the images after they were loaded.
In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson