Struck for only two years in 1854 and 1855, the design is a variation of the beautiful "Arrows and Rays" of 1853. Despite their allure, "Arrows and Rays" half dollars proved very difficult to strike and resulted in excessive die breakage. The Mint had to adjust the design in order to prolong working die life, but still needed a distinguishing mark to familiarize the public with the newly created weight standard authorized in early 1853. The decision was made to drop the rays from the reverse, while keeping the obverse arrowheads remaining at the date. Only an extremely limited number of these coins had been previously certified by either NGC or PCGS, making these treasures even scarcer!
Each coin has been conserved, attributed, and encapsulated by NCS and NGC and arrives in a hardwood display case with an engraved "SS Republic" plate affixed to the cover. Included is an illustrated booklet describing the history of the SS Republic, a DVD video produced by National Geographic, and a Certificate of Authenticity. Both the significance of this unique type coin and the very special provenance of these silver half dollars have been recognized by NGC, who created a distinctive label to be used on the protective holders. These labels identify both the "Arrows" pedigree and the unique "Shipwreck Effect" designation set against an image of the SS Republic.
Bound for New Orleans from New York with passengers and commercial cargo, the sidewheel steamship SS Republic was lost in a violent hurricane on October 25, 1865. In August 2003, Odyssey located the shipwreck at a depth of about 1,7000 feet in the Atlantic Ocean about 100 miles east of Savannah, Georgia. During archaeological excavation of the site, coins were picked up individually by the remote Operated Vehicle "ZEUS" with a delicate limpet to protect the coin's surfaces. Each coin was carefully conserved and encased in a tamper-resistant holder with a unique bar-coded label from NGC.
Die: An engraved piece of metal used to stamp a design on a coin.
Die crack: A small, raised imperfection on a coin resulting from a crack in the stamping die.
Early release: The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) uses this designation for U.S. Bullion Coins during the first month of release from the U.S. Mint. To qualify for Early Release designation, NGC must receive the coins within 30 days of their release by the US Mint or properly documented as being received by an NGC approved entity within the same 30-day release period.
Encapsulated coin: A coin graded and authenticated by a professional coin service, then sealed in plastic.
Field: The typically flat area surrounding the relief and not used for legend or inscription.
Legal tender: Official money issued by the government.
Legend: The coin's primary lettering.
Lettered edge: An inscription added to the edge of a coin.
Luster: The quality of the surface brilliance on a Mint State or Uncirculated coin.
Mercury dime: Issued from 1916 to 1945, this U.S. dime featured a representation of Liberty in a winged hat that was commonly mistaken for the ancient god, Mercury.
Mint: A government controlled coin production facility.
Mint mark: A small letter stamped on a coin that indicates its mint origin, ex. "D" for Denver.
Mint Set: One coin from each of the available denominations in a particular year, produced by a single mint and made for circulation.
Mint State (Uncirculated): A regular production coin never used in trade and existing in its original condition.
Mintage: The number of coins produced.
NGC: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
Numismatics: The collection and study of monetary objects such as coins and paper bills.
Obverse: Heads, or a coin's front side.
Patina: Surface discoloration, typically green or brown, caused by oxidation over time.
PCGS: Professional Coin Grading Service.
Planchet: A blank metal piece used to produce a coin.
Proof: Expertly polished planchets and dies produce these coins which feature an extremely high quality strike, resulting in unmatched detail and brilliant surface finish.
Reeded edge: A coin edge finish featuring parallel vertical grooves all the way around.
Relief: The raised portion of a stamped design that sits above the coin's field.
Reverse: Tails, or coin's back side.
Rim: The raised ring around the perimeter of a coin designed to reduce wear on the relief.
Strike: The act of stamping a coin.
Truncation: The bottom edge of a portrait or bust.
Wheat penny: Lincoln cents issued from 1909 to 1958 bearing the wheat ear design on the reverse.