USA-Philippines Proof Type Set
Fifty Centavos, Reduced Size & Weight - 1908





Coin Details

Origin/Country: United States
Item Description: SILVER 50C 1908 USA-PHIL KM-171
Full Grade: NGC PF 66
Owner: JAA

Owner Comments:

Mintage: 500 (PROOF ONLY ISSUE)
NGC Population: 4/1; PCGS Population: 10/4
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.7500
Weight: 10.0000g
ASW: 0.2411oz
Diameter: 27mm
Edge: Reeded

The obverse and reverse designs of the 1907 through 1921 Fifty Centavos are the same as the 1903 through 1906 Fifty Centavos.

When the standards for the coinage system in the Philippine Islands was established in 1903 the Actual Silver Weight (ASW) of the four denominations of silver coins was set relatively high compared to the coins face value. By 1905 rising silver prices brought the bullion value of Philippine silver coins to the level where they were beginning to disappear from circulation. By November 1906 the melt value of Philippine silver coins had risen to 13.2% over their face value. Laws prohibiting the melting and export of silver coins proved largely ineffective and something had to be done. In December 1906 the U.S. Congress passed an Act "for the purpose of preventing the melting and exportation of the silver coins of the Philippine Islands as a result of the high price of silver". The Act reduced the weight and fineness of Philippine silver coins. The silver Fifty Centavos was reduced in fineness from .900 silver, 13.48 Grams to .750 silver, 10.0 Grams, and the diameter was reduced from 30 mm to 27 mm.

Authority was also granted to recall from circulation and banks what silver coins were yet in the Islands and ship them back to the United States for re-coining into pieces of lesser fineness. Business strikes of the Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1907, the San Francisco Mint from 1907 through 1919, and the Manila Mint in 1920 and 1921.

Since U.S. mints had to replace nearly all of the Islands silver coinage in 1907 it was not felt that there were enough resources to make 1907 Proof Sets. When Proof Set production resumed in 1908 all of the silver coins were struck in the newly authorized reduced weight and fineness. The 1908 Fifty Centavos is a PROOF ONLY ISSUE with a mintage of only 500 specimens. 1908 was the last year of issue for U.S. Philippine Proof Sets and the only year that the Reduced Size and Weight Fifty Centavos was produced in Proof.

The 1908 Fifty Centavos is perhaps the most difficult U.S. Philippine Proof coin to find in high numerical grade and attractive eye appeal.

Near Superb Gem and Superb Gem examples of this date and denomination are extremely rare and until recently PF66 was the highest grade certified by either NGC or PCGS. As of this date (2/16/2015) NGC has certified a meager four specimens in PF66 and only one specimen in PF67. PCGS has certified slightly more with ten specimens in PR66 and three in PR67. While the combined NGC/PCGS population in PF66 is officially listed as 14/4 this figure is most likely overinflated by resubmissions.

In the past decade I have never seen a PF67 example of this date offered in a major auction and appearances of PF66 specimens are few and far between. Since 2007 know of only four auction appearances of 1908 Fifty Centavos in PF66. Three of these have been for the specimen in this Registry Set.
Ex. Heritage 2009 September Long Beach, CA Signature World Coin Auction #3096. Lot #21678
Ex. Stacks Bowers and Ponterio, The August 2013 Chicago ANA World's Fair of Money Auction - Session D, World Crowns & Minors, Lot #13303.
Ex. Cookie Jar Collectibles, Philippine Mail Bid Sale XIX, February-March 2014, Lot #500.

Proof examples of the1908 Fifty Centavos typically lack the eye appeal that is seen in other U.S. Philippine Proof coins of their grade. Even in the higher grades they typically lack the bold strike and brilliant mirror surfaces normally expected in a GEM Proof. Strike issues are most evident in the lack of detail in the central figures hair and the first two digits of the date. Most experts believe that the 1908 Fifty Centavos was struck from rusty dies. Many of the surviving 1908 Fifty Centavos have a milky appearance perhaps due to being struck on improperly polished planchets.

This specimen has superior eye appeal for the date and denomination and may well be the most attractive surviving example of this rare U.S. Philippine Proof. Both the obverse and reverse is beautifully toned in pastel hues of light peach and sky blue over fully original brilliant mirror surfaces. A truly beautiful coin.

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