Here's the third and final installment of Ron Guth's blog posts on the current whereabouts of Barber Half Dollars once owned by collector Louis Eliasberg.
Image courtesy PCGS.com
This is the third and final 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 1910 to 1915 and provide updated provenances for as many of the coins as possible.
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 project is that the quality of the coins in the Clapp collection seems to have dropped off after John H. took over the collection. He appears to have discontinued purchasing coins directly from the Mints, as his father had done for so many years.
If you are aware of additional information on any of these coins or any of the missing ones in previous installments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
The provenances for all the Barber Half Dollars after 1905 were not recorded in the 1997 sale of the Eliasberg coins. John M. Clapp died on October 24, 1906 and left his coins to his son, John H. Clapp. Apparently, the son was not as meticulous a record-keeper as his father. Therefore, none of the following coins have a pre-Eliasberg provenance, though they most likely came from the Clapp collection.
To read the complete article, see:
Looking For Louis Eliasberg's Barber Half Dollars, Part III
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
LOUIS ELIASBERG'S BARBER HALF DOLLARS
LOUIS ELIASBERG'S BARBER HALF DOLLARS, PART II
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