Ron Guth's latest blog post is Part II of his investigation into the current whereabouts of the coins once owned by collector Louis Eliasberg.
This is the second installment of a three-part series where I identify many of the Barber Half Dollars that were sold in 1997 as part of the Louis Eliasberg, Sr. collection. This installment will look at the dates from 1900 to 1909 and provide updated provenances for as many of the coins as possible. Several of these coins will be coming up for sale as part of the Larry Miller collection by Stack's/Bowers on December 17, 2020. Mr. Miller was in attendance at the April 1997 sale of the Eliasberg Barber Half Dollars conducted by Bowers & Merena, where he purchased quite a few of the coins and placed them in his collection. This cache of Barber Half Dollars from the Eliasberg/Miller collection allowed me to fill in enough holes so that the listing of Eliasberg provenances for this series is almost complete.
Eliasberg obtained most of his Barber Half Dollars from the Clapp family collection, started by John M. Clapp in the late 1800's and continued by his son, John H. Apparently, J.M. had an arrangement with the mints to obtain coins from the year of issue, including Proof coins and those made for circulation. Judging by the quality of the coins, it appears that someone selected coins for the Clapps with great care. The Clapps eschewed circulation strikes when Proofs were available. Thus most, if not all, of the Barber Half Dollars in the Clapp and Eliasberg collections from the Philadelphia Mint are Proofs, while all of the branch mint examples are high-grade circulation strikes. As a result, there is no such thing as a complete set of circulation strike Barber Half Dollars in either the Clapp or the Eliasberg collections and it was left to later collectors, such as Dr. Thaine Price, Dr. Duckor, Dale Friend, John Hugon, Dr. Shireman, and others to accomplish that goal.
Many of the Proof Eliasberg Half Dollars have been difficult or impossible to locate. Either the Proofs went into a collection that has yet to be discovered, or more likely is my guess, they may have been conserved such that any identifying markers, especially toning patterns, have been removed. Bright white Proof coins are among the most difficult to match up with prior appearances, as there is simply very little data to compare.
My sense in working on this installment is that the quality of the coins seems to have dropped off after the son took over the collection. He may not have pursued purchasing coins directly from the Mints, as his father had done for so many years. The MS64 1909-O Half Dollar is a good example. Every O-Mint Half Dollar of previous years was a Gem and, in some cases, they were among the finest known.
The following information is the best I can come up with at this time. If you are aware of additional information on any of these coins or any of the missing ones, please contact me at email@example.com. Thanks in advance for all your help.
To read the complete article, see:
Looking for Louis Eliasberg's Barber Half Dollars, Part II
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
LOUIS ELIASBERG'S BARBER HALF DOLLARS
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