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MORE ON THE 1838-O HALF DOLLAR
Dave Ginsburg forwarded these notes on the 1838-O Half Dollar. -EditorRegarding the discussion of the 1838-O half dollar, unfortunately, the Mint Annual Reports don't mention it in particular.
The 1838 Mint Report states that 367,434 dimes were struck before operations were halted from the end of July to the beginning of November so that the officers could leave New Orleans during the "sickly season". The Report concludes by reporting that a total of 402,430 dimes (and no other denominations) were minted in New Orleans in 1838.
The 1839 Mint Report comes in two parts. The page that Mr. Lupia submitted is the first page of the second part.
The first part of the report, dated January 30, 1840, states: "The coinage at the New Orleans branch mint, up to the 17th of August, when operations were suspended, amounted to $227,160 in silver, composed of 2,401,600 pieces of coin."
It also discusses "disagreements. . .among the officers" and reports on the investigation by the "United States district attorney at New Orleans". Table D, which shows the coinage of the branch mints in 1839, details mintage of 100,000 half dollars, 1,241,600 dimes and 1,060,000 half dimes at New Orleans.
As we saw in the scan of the second part of the 1839 Mint Report last week, the Report stated that in November and December, the New Orleans Mint coined $23,490 in gold and $13,000 in silver, consisting of 9,396 quarter eagles, 16,000 half dollars and 50,000 dimes.
Fortunately, while that is all the information in the Mint Annual Reports, we can look to RW Julian's research for more details. He published an excellent article about the early years of the New Orleans Mint in the September 1968 issue of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine. In it, he reports that no half dollars were delivered by the Coiner of the New Orleans Mint in 1838 and he believes that the 1838-O half dollars were minted in late March or early April 1839, as the first reported delivery is of 64,000 half dollars on April 6, 1839. Mr. Julian also reports that the 1838-dated obverse dies were defaced on June 13, 1839. In addition, he states that while he hasn't found any documentary evidence, he has no reason to doubt that 20 1838-O half dollars were struck.
By the way, additional versions of Mr. Julian's article exist: one was published in the November 1977 issues of Coins magazine (although without the detailed tables of the Scrapbook article). Also, I infer from Randy Wiley's article in issue #99 of The Gobrecht Journal that additional versions were published in Numismatic News on May 27, 1986 and March 4, 1997. (Clearly, it's time for Mr. Julian to meet his once-a-decade schedule and re-publish the article again!)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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