Canada 1921 50 cents

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Heritage sale 3032, lot 24237
photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries
This specimen was lot 24237 in Heritage sale 3032 (Chicago, April 2014), where it sold for $141,000. The catalog description[1] noted,
"A Numismatic Legend - 'The King of Canadian Coins' George V Specimen 50 Cents 1921, Ottawa mint, SP64 PCGS. Enveloped in a rich base of dusky gray-tan patina with some overlying mauve and olive shades on both sides. On the dentils, more lively toning exists with a thin ring of gold, blue-green, and magenta color. A lack of any abrasive post-strike contact marks help to confirm the present coin's status as a Specimen strike, while magnified viewing helps to identify two tiny strike-thoughs in the left obverse field that should serve well as pedigree markers.

Merely mention the date '1921' and the astute Canadian collector knows you've got something good. However, mention the "1921 Half Dollar", and they know you're talking about a legend. Originally struck in the respectable quantity of 206,398 pieces, all or the majority of this mintage was never released into circulation due to waning demand for the denomination. Resultantly, production of half dollars was suspended for much of the 1920s, only to begin again in 1929. To facilitate this re-introduction, some 480,392 half dollars in mint reserve, including an amount presumed to be near the entire mintage of 1921 pieces, were melted for purposes of re-coining the silver. Today, approximately 75 examples of the 1921 date are thought to survive with some debate existing as to how many, if not all of the survivors, are specimen strikes that were made available to Ottawa mint visitors. So, while not technically the rarest of the Canadian decimal types, the associated veil of mystery that surrounds the relatively few survivors makes for as compelling a story as there is. For this reason, it hasn't been without its staunch supporters along the way; James E. Charlton, one of most recognizable names in Canadian numismatics for his early pricing research, dubbed the coin 'The King of Canadian Numismatics.' The name stuck, and as a result, the demand through the decades has never wavered. Today, collectors with the means to afford such a prize are well beyond their supply on the market, and no matter the condition, people line up to own "the King." A true national treasure, we wish the best of luck to all those who attempt to add this centerpiece to their collection. From The Prager Collection of Canadian Specimen Coins."

Recorded mintage: 206,398; est. 75 to 100 survivors.

Specification: 11.66 g, .800 fine silver, .300 troy oz ASW, 29.72 mm diameter, reeded edge, designed by E. B. MacKennal.

Catalog reference: KM25a.

Source:

  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000, 42nd ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2014.
  • Cross, W. K., The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, 47th Ed., Toronto: Charlton International, 1993.
  • [1]Bierrenbach, Cristiano, Warren Tucker and David Michaels, Heritage World and Ancient Coins Auction 3032, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2014.

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