Modern U.S. proof coins are gorgeous creations that reflect the height of the mint makers' art. Of course that is what you would expect for specimen coins struck specifically for collectors. The High quality of Modern U.S. Proof coins is a testament to the stringent quality controls standards used in the production of modern proof coins. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century things were very different. Without a doubt the poster child for poorly made proof coins is the 1908 USA/Philippines Fifty Centavos.
Most Philippine experts believe that the 1908 Fifty Centavos proof issue was struck from defective, probably rusted, dies. All 1908 Fifty Centavos proof coins display considerably flat frontal hair just above the ear and most specimens have dull non reflective fields. This lack of detail is not seen in other denominations of 1908 USA/Philippines proof coins which are generally well struck.
Even specimens with the highest technical grades (The NGC/PCGS Top Pop is PF66) lack detail in the hair just above the ear and may have poor eye appeal. This makes it extremely challenging to find an attractive high grade specimen.
Until recently the example of this coin that I used in both my USA/Philippines Type Set and 1908 Proof Set was a NGC certified PF62 with nice eye appeal for the grade. For several years now I have been searching for a nice looking example of this coin with a higher technical grade. I have looked at several PF64 and PF65 specimens and to put it charitably I have not been impressed by what I have seen. To put it more bluntly the coins have been just plain UGLY.
I had just about given up hope that I would find a specimen with a higher technical and at least average eye appeal when I spotted a 1908 PR64 specimen in Teletrade Auction number 3407 (Sunday 12/30/2012) Lot # 3776. While the picture did not portray an especially attractive coin it had better than average hair detail for the date and the best eye appeal that I have seen so far on a 1908 Fifty Centavos proof in this grade.
The Allen catalog lists the 1908 Fifty Centavos in PF64 at $575.00. In the real world the FMV for PF64 specimens of this date is considerably higher. Dealers that specialize in USA/Philippines coins typically list PF64 specimens at $800.00 - $880.00.
To my surprise I was able to purchase this coin for a hammer price of $450.00 ($517.50 with buyer's premium).
When the coin arrived it was considerably more attractive than the picture suggested. The fields which appeared dull in the picture have a medium mirror surface and the specimen has decent eye appeal for the typically unattractive 1908 Fifty Centavos proof issue. Overall I am very satisfied with this coin and it will do quite nicely until I can find a better specimen.
The only negative feature of this coin is that it is in a PCGS holder. I definitely plan to submit it to NGC for crossover and will hold off on adding it to my award winning (2011 Best Presented Set) USA/Philippines Type Set until it is in an NGC holder. http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=51257&;Ranking=all
The coin pictured is my newly acquired 1908 Fifty Centavos, PR64.
The 1908 Fifty Centavos is a PROOF ONLY ISSUE with a mintage of only 500. The NGC population for this coin in PF64 is 4 specimens with 18 graded higher. The PCGS population is 12/26. A 1908 Fifty Centavos in PF64 receives 1163 Registry Points.
This coin was used to upgrade the Fifty Centavos slot in my award winning (2012 Best Classic Set) 1908 USA/Philippines Proof Set. http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=143079&;Ranking=all
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