Coin Specifications

Category: Hawaii
Mintage: 26
Catalog: KM-6
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 12.5000g
ASW: 0.3617oz
Melt Value: $7.45 (7/30/2014)
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1883 HAWAII 50C PF obverse 1883 HAWAII 50C PF reverse


Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions (HA.com)
  
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Description & Analysis

CS-4, "Hapalua." Upright 8s in the date. Very rare, just 26 proofs were struck in silver to honor King Kalakaua I. The fields are deeply mirrored on each side and the surfaces are mostly brilliant with just a hint of reddish-russet color around the margins. Don Medcalf (Hawaiian Money: Standard Catalog), lives in Honolulu and has studied sources in the state archives, explains that six silver proof sets were coined in September 1883, and another 20 sets were made the following year. Designed by Charles E. Barber. All pieces made for commerce were coined at San Francisco. Proofs were made at the proofing facility inside the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. All interested collectors should read or re-read Walter Breen's account on pages 672-673 of his Complete Encyclopedia.
Proofs such as this pleasing specimen are indeed very special, above and beyond their tiny mintage number. Statehood was not even a remote thought in 1883, and the Philadelphia Mint's proofs were nothing but special pieces made on contract for a remote outpost, mostly dominated by an American fruit company. Thus, survivors of this rare issuance are nothing related to the lovely but more plentiful and often superb proofs of the regular U.S. coinage. Not at all. Few collectors saved them, and fewer still in America even had access to any, to acquire. They were portraiture commemoratives, in fact, and the portrait splendidly captured the Hawaiian motif. The king's "picture" is totally authentic.
David Kalakaua was elected by the Hawaiian legislature to replace the first elected king, Charles Lunalilo, who passed away in 1874 without successor. Kalakaua is remembered for wishing to bring his kingdom into the modern world, for his American leanings, and (for our purposes) even for wanting to cause a national coinage to be created. He took a European holiday in 1881, and out of his visits to various mints came a marvelously rare pattern struck at Paris, the so-called "5 Cent" piece. But nothing came of it. American foreign policy focused on the Hawaiian Islands at this time, for economic reasons (and potential military ones as well), and from this came the coinage of 1883. Sugar baron Claus Spreckels had more than the king's ear, and convinced him to contract with the United States to have a silver coinage made bearing his portrait. Barber produced master dies and hubs, and coins were minted to the same standards as regular U.S. silver, and paralleling the U.S. denominations although bearing Hawaiian names. Thus they were made from standard U.S. planchets.
The few proof sets were struck at Philadelphia, then operations were transferred to the mint at San Francisco for the commercial coinage beginning in November 1883 and concluded the following June. The last pieces made were additional proofs, created strictly for diplomatic purposes--to be presented to dignitaries (none for public sale). Each proof coin of this era is consequently a fascinating and very rare part of Hawaiian history, indelibly linked to the United States and to American numismatics. Opportunities to acquire one are rare today but not as rare as they were in 1883-1884, and it appears that relatively few collectors realize what a splendid opportunity each auction appearance truly is.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 6
Low Grade: 63
Average Grade: 63
High Grade: 65


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
1/3/2007 NGC PF 63   Heritage Auctions 2007 January Orlando, FL (FUN) Signature Coin Auction #422, 422/Lot# 1163 $23,000.00
3/6/2008 PCGS PF 61   Heritage Auctions 2008 March Phoenix, AZ (ANA) Signature Auction #1102, 1102/Lot# 1292 $13,800.00
5/27/2012 PCGS PF 66   Goldberg May 27-31, 2012 The May Pre-Long Beach Auction, 69/Lot# 1838 $43,700.00
5/27/2012 PCGS PF 63   Goldberg May 27-31, 2012 The May Pre-Long Beach Auction, 69/Lot# 1842 $18,400.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1883 HAWAII 50C PF
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base3333333322332885360139844472488853676132697333333
333333374624503123372841464610504756226412697333330
000000374624503123372841464610504756226412697333300
0000003148926673362385643094749520758776692697333300
1883 HAWAII 50C PF Cameo
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base3333333323453021376141574660508955826370723433333
333333378325703267389343244803525358446658723433330
000000378325703267389343244803525358446658723433300
0000003156427953514402544924946541761076946723433300
Competitive Registry Sets
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: PF 63
Points: 5367
Owner: Chesaboy
 
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