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A Gorgeous 1874-CC Liberty Seated Half Dollar From The William Porter Collection of Carson City Mint Coinage

Article by John Salyer, Numismatist and Cataloger, U.S. Coins.

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Thursday, May 09, 2013 / Categories: United States Coin of the Week
Our upcoming Stack’s Bowers Galleries June Baltimore sale will feature Part II of the fabulous William Porter Collection of Carson City Mint Coinage. Among other outstanding rarities, this group will feature a gorgeous 1874-CC Liberty Seated half dollar, graded MS-64 by NGC. This piece is the plate coin for the WB-2 die pair in the 2010 book A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Varieties, Volume II: Carson City Branch Mint, by Bill Bugert. It is classified as WB-101, one of three major die varieties for the date and mintmark. WB-101 is defined as a Small Arrows type, in reference to the new outfacing arrows at the date, added in 1873 to signify a slight increase in the weight of the half dollar. The Small Arrows type has arrows that are .090 inches long, while the Large Arrows variety features arrows that are .115 inches long, and point slightly up. Bugert has further refined the attribution system for the Seated Liberty half dollars by identifying unique die pairs for the major die varieties. In this case, the 1874-CC specimen that we will offer in Baltimore is denoted as an example of Bugert’s WB-2 die pair for the WB-101. The WB-2 die pair is attributed by the date being located to the far right, with the left edge of 1 above the left side of a dentil; the mintmark has small CCs high and closely spaced, a diagonal die line extending through (STAT)ES, and there is no die defect (or “cowlick”) above the eagle’s head.

Regardless of die variety or die pair, the 1874-CC half dollar is a low mintage issue with only 59,000 struck. It is scarce at all grade levels and a key date in the Liberty Seated half dollar series. In Mint State, this date is extremely elusive: only 14 pieces have been graded as such by PCGS, while a mere 11 coins have been designated in Uncirculated condition by NGC. The example to be offered by us in Baltimore, graded at MS-64, is one of just three near-Gems seen by NGC with only two pieces are rated finer by that service -- one at MS-65 and another at MS-66.

This lovely example displays semi-reflective fields beneath charcoal-gray, sky-blue, violet, and iridescent toning. Both sides are sharply struck with complete stars, head, and gown details on the obverse and a fully feathered eagle on the reverse. Many specialists and serious type collectors will be keenly interested when this coin crosses the auction block in June, at the Baltimore Convention Center.