Description and Analysis
Seated Liberty Half Dollars
1863 50C PF
Description & Analysis
Proof sales remained modest throughout the Civil War years. Depreciation of the federal paper currency made the ordering of proofs a challenging process in which one had to either pay in gold or silver coin at the established price or in paper at some higher price. The current value of paper versus hard coin varied constantly, reaching its lowest point in the summer of 1864, when the price in notes was almost double that as paid in coin.
Only 460 silver proof sets (which included the minor coins) were produced in 1863. These were delivered in three batches: March 5 (100), March 8 (160) and May 26 (200). It's likely that all or nearly all of these were placed with collectors or dealers. Gems are elusive, but the overall high quality of proofs from this period has provided a number of certified Cameo pieces. One qualifying as Ultra Cameo, however, are exceedingly rare.
Walter Breen listed three die marriages, but these were based solely on the distinctive obverse dies. It appears that neither he nor M. L. Beistle before him studied the reverse closely enough to determine whether more than one die was used. This information awaits Bill Bugert's upcoming volumes on the Philadelphia Mint halves of 1853 and later.