NGC Certifies Unique Half Dime

Posted on 4/27/2004

1870-S Rarity Unknown Until 1978

The unique 1870-S half dime, a coin entirely unknown to the numismatic community until a quarter century ago, has been certified by NGC as MS 63.

The hobby was stunned with the announcement in 1978 that a single 1870 half dime bearing a San Francisco mintmark had turned up, reportedly found in a dealer’s “junkbox.” Whether or not that tale is true, the coin’s previous history is clouded in mystery. Today, it has earned its place among the top American rarities.

Documentation exists confirming that at least one each of the various denominations current in 1870 was struck at the San Francisco Mint that year for placement in the cornerstone of the new mint building under construction in that city. While most denominations of 1870-S coinage exist in sufficient numbers to be collectable the silver dollar is a major rarity, while the half dime and three-dollar piece each remain unique. No example has yet surfaced of the quarter dollar.

NGC Chairman and CEO was very impressed with the unique 1870-S half dime. “It’s really amazing that rarities of this magnitude are still being discovered,” he stated. “The history that this coin represents makes it one of the most important American coins.”

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