The 1877 Morgan Half Dollar in Silver, PCGS PR66CAM is the Professional Grading Service’s (PCGS) Coin of the Month.
While United States pattern coinage has long been a favorite area for many collectors, there’s a particularly strong interest in this piece designed by George T. Morgan. It features the curly-haired portrait of Miss Liberty as made popular on Morgan’s Liberty Head dollar that debuted in 1878 and became known by the surname of its namesake designer.
Anything Morgan dollar-related is numismatic gold, and therefore it’s little surprise that this silver half-dollar pattern bearing the familiar “Morgan” Liberty fared well when it hit the auction block in 2022. Harry W. Bass, Jr. bought this pattern in 1970, which he kept in a cabinet for several decades. The collection was on display for over two decades at the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, before the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation decided it was time for the collection to be sold to raise money for Dallas-area charities in need.
The 1877 Morgan half-dollar pattern was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as a Proof-66 Cameo and hit the auction circuit, where big money was expected for this popular piece – one of just six known. The pattern didn’t disappoint. It was sold at Heritage Auctions for $43,200 on September 29, 2022.
Grade refers to a coin’s level of preservation: how many nicks or scratches or other imperfections it has. The coins are graded from 1 to 70. Higher numbers indicate higher grades. One is a coin so worn out that its type can barely be identified. One represents a coin with no visible imperfections when examined under a 5-power magnifying lens.
Mint State grades (MS) range from 60 to 70. A coin graded MS-60 may have so many nicks, scratches and flaws it could look like Godzilla used it to teethe. MS-65, the industry standard grade for “Gem,” is the most common coin grade. MS-66 to MS-69 are near-flawless super-grades or wonder coins. Each grade level higher than MS-66 could increase the value by as much as three or four times.
The numerical grades are not the only ones used. The word grades in ascending sequence are: About or Almost Excellent; Good; Very good; Fine; Extremely fine; Extra or Very Fine; About Uncirculated or Almost Uncirculated and Mint.
A Proof is You can also check out our other blog posts. A Mint State coin is a special type of coin. Proof is a manufacturing method, not a coin grade. The Proof coins can be used in circulation or to spend. Proofs are graded using a scale of one through seventy. A Proof coin with a grade less than Proof-60 can be called an “impaired Proof.”
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COINage Magazine published the first article about PCGS Coin of The Month: 1877 Morgan half dollar in silver.