1838-O Proof Capped Bust Half Dollar

Proof Capped Bust Half Dollars are extremely rare with most dates represented by only a few examples and some dates with no proofs known to exist. The acquisition of a single proof striking is a major accomplishment. Especially of interest are the branch mint proof strikings, most famously the Proof 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar. Proofs were not standard issues from branch mints, and these represent just one of the few cases where true proof strikings have been confirmed to exist.

The New Orleans Mint struck just 20 of the 1838-O half dollars in proof format, most likely to commemorate the opening of the new facility. Of historical importance, the coins were the first half dollars to be struck at a branch mint and one of the earliest U.S. coins to include a mint mark. At the time, the “O” mint mark was placed on the obverse of the coin above the date.

It is believed that only 11 examples of the Proof 1838-O Half Dollar survive from the original mintage of 20 pieces. The grades range from PF-40 to PF-64. The rarity of this issue was known back in the 19th century, and pieces have been in constant demand since then. Offerings are few and far between, often the highlight in any auction, accompanied with other rarities or not. The last recorded sale was for an example graded PF-63 that sold in February 2008 for $632,500.