Norweb's Prooflike Gem
Clearly this is an early strike from exceptional dies, and a perfect match for the 1988 Norweb plate. Softly toned in amber-gold which becomes more prominent on the reverse, the fields are fully prooflike and stand in strong contrast with the lightly frosted devices. Some scattered, trivial contact marks are well camouflaged, and mostly disappear without a loupe.
There are only two great 1897-O Barber Halves, the Superb Prooflike Gem Clapp-Eliasberg PCGS MS68 #04720306 (Bowers & Merena 4/1997:2080), certified by PCGS as MS68 before 2002 and currently in the Dell Loy Hansen collection, and this PCGS MS67 formerly in the Norweb, Duckor, and Gardner collections. There is really no close third, as the ex Hugon NGC MS68 #208114-036 shows a prominent vertical film smear on the obverse, while the ex Friend PCGS MS67 #21554870, while included in the CAC Census, exhibits toning which does not appear to be all original.
Holden – Norweb Family Collection; Bowers and Merena, Norweb Collection, Part III, November 1988, lot 3612 as “Prooflike Gem”; David Akers; to Dr. Steven L. Duckor privately, March 2003; Heritage Auctions, Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Barber Half Dollar Collection, August 2010, lot 3189 @ $37,375 as PCGS MS67 #16398767 to Joseph O’Connor (OCNUMIS); to Eugene H. Gardner privately, October 2010; Heritage Auctions, Eugene H. Gardner, Part II, October 2014, lot 98549 @ $35,250 as PCGS MS67 #16398767 to Joseph O’Connor (OCNUMIS); ‘Eldorado’ Collection.