Lot Number 6
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1806 Knob 6, No Stem - O.108a, T-2 R.8 PCGS VG 08
The Holy Grail of draped bust half dollars. There are but 7 examples known of the die pair; only two feature the massive rim cud atop UNITE. Don Frederick found the coin in Hawaii in 1976. About the same time another example showed up in Brooklyn, NY (the Friedman-Schertz-Meyer-Link-Sharfman coin). Frederick was a keen student of the draped bust series. He knew that only one of the (then) 3 other specimens came from the terminal die state. He negotiated a purchase in January 1977.
For thirty years Don resisted all efforts to pry the coin loose from his collection. Then, in July 2008, he consigned his early half-dollars to Heritage. This was lot 439 in the Baltimore ANA sale. Heritage properly noted the coin’s defects: the surfaces were lightly wiped and display scratches under a deep, original grey patina. Yet the coin is attractive. The toning shields its defects and is clearly of ancient origin, reminiscent of Grandma’s unpolished silver. Frederick was profoundly disappointed when the coin sold to a dealer for $25,300. In short order the coin was submitted to PCGS for grading and sold to Dr. Link for an undisclosed sum. When Dr. Link acquired the somewhat nicer Friedman-Schertz-Meyer PCGS F.15 1806 O.108a he consigned this coin to my Aug. 2017 Mail Bid Sale No. 45 (lot 50). Steve Nomura prevailed at $60,500. Dr. Link later sold the aforementioned F.15 example to Howard Sharfman via private treaty. Legend auctioned Sharfman’s stunning collection of bust half-dollars in Sept. 2021. I expected lot 22, the 1806 O.108a PCGS F.15, to race by the $100,000 level. When the bidding slowed at $90,000 I stepped in, winning the coin for $96,938. Early this year a Florida collector wrested the coin from my inventory, assuring me that it will remain in his collection for a long while.
The charisma, rarity and value of the “1806 Knob 6, No Stem” is usually compared to its capped bust equivalent, the 1817/4. Both coins are Red Book varieties. When my interest in the bust half series developed there were 5 known `06-108s and 7 known 1817/4s. Forty years later the numbers are 7 and 11. Each of these rarities appears in distinct die states: the 1817/4 comes with and without a bisecting obverse die break [O.102 and 102a]; the 1806 Knob 6, No Stem comes with and without a reverse rim cud [Tompkins die states 1-3 and 4-5]. This is the most important coin in the sale, hands down. Congratulations to the new owner. Estimate: $70,000 and up