Rare 1838 half-dollar coin could be worth $500G at auction

An extremely rare half-dollar coin from 1838, now valued at as much as $500,000, is set for auction this week.

The 1838-O Capped Bust half dollar is one of only nine that are known to exist, according to auction house Stack’s Bowers Galleries. No more than 20 coins were made of the first issue of half dollars from the then newly-opened New Orleans Mint, it said, in a statement emailed to Fox News.

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The 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar is one of only nine that are known to exist.

The 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar is one of only nine that are known to exist. (Stack's Bowers Galleries)

“This particular mint was established to produce coins of several different denominations at the time but its main focus was the 50-cent piece, which was needed to convert the flow of uneven quality Latin American silver coins into a sufficient quantity of new United States coins fit for banking and commerce,” explained Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

The gallery continued: “However, technical issues and the spread of yellow fever in the area limited production of the coin for that year and very few were struck as a result. Now, the 1838-O half dollar is one of the most sought-after coins by collectors and enthusiasts alike due to its rarity and this particular specimen is one of the finest examples available.”

The rare half dollar has been off the market since the 1980s. It will be auctioned at the Whitman Baltimore Winter Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center on Nov. 15.

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The front of the 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar coin. (Stack's Bowers Galleries)

The front of the 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar coin. (Stack's Bowers Galleries)

“This is one of those coins that every serious collector dreams about acquiring,” said Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries, in the statement. “It almost seems that it was fated to become a collector’s item from the day it was struck.”

An extremely rare 1894 dime, one of only 24 minted and once owned by former Lakers owner Jerry Buss, recently sold at auction for $1.32 million, including the buyer’s commission.

The back of the 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar coin. (Stack's Bowers Galleries)

The back of the 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar coin. (Stack's Bowers Galleries)

In 2016, an 1894-S dime sold for $2 million at a Florida auction.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers