GR-11 R1. Eliasberg. Finest known for the year. Per heritage cataloger, "The Mint introduced steam-powered coin presses in 1836 and used a close collar on the half dollar denomination for the first time, as well. These innovations made the Reeded Edge design possible, and large numbers of high-quality coins could be produced to meet the economic needs of the time. The reverse design was changed in 1838, with the denomination expressed as HALF DOL. instead of 50 CENTS, and the Capped Bust obverse was replaced by Gobrecht's Seated Liberty in 1840.
As the first issue of the short-lived HALF DOL. design, the 1838 Reeded Edge half dollar is especially important to type collectors. The present coin is the finest known example of the date, with no serious challenger. This coin is the single finest certified at NGC, while PCGS has graded no examples finer than MS66 (11/11). It occupies the number 1 spot in Stephen J. Herrman's Condition Census and claims a pedigree of illustrious owners back to the 19th century.
This coin traces its history to the fabled Eliasberg Collection, and before that to the famous father-and-son collecting team of John M. and John H. Clapp, and finally to H.P. Smith, who served as a sort of dean of respected coin dealers in the late 19th century. Eliasberg was the only collector to ever complete a full collection of U.S. federal coins by date, mintmark, and major design type. He was also justly famous for the quality of the coins in his collection, as he would accept only the finest available specimens.
The present coin is a marvelous Superb Gem, with sharply detailed design elements throughout. The eagle's claws are complete and fine definition shows on all of Liberty's curls. The virtually pristine surfaces are blanketed in attractive shades of russet-gold and gunmetal-blue patina, with satiny mint luster on both sides. This magnificent coin should find a home in the finest collection of Reeded Edge half dollars." Obtained from Heritage Platinum Night Auction on 8/2/2012,Lot 5149. Ex: Harlan Page Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 667; John M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate to Louis Eliasberg in 1942, via Stack's; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1910; Pre-Long Beach Elite Coin Auction (Superior, 5/2006), lot 4233; Johnson-Blue Collection (Stack's, 8/2010), lot 502; FUN (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 3233.