DWN Sells Finest Known 1861-C Half Eagle

Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) of Portland, Oregon in conjunction with David Lawrence Rare Coins (DLRC) of Virginia Beach, Virginia recently sold the single finest known example of the rare 1861-C half eagle. Graded MS63 by PCGS and approved by CAC, the coin is the finest known by a full two points.

Finest Known 1861-C $5.00 PCGS MS63 CAC

Finest Known 1861-C $5.00 PCGS MS63 CAC

The 1861-C is an important issue for a number of reasons. It is the final coin produced at the Charlotte mint and it is the only issue from Charlotte with a Civil War association. It is possible that at least some of the 6,879 made were produced by the Confederacy but as of yet, there is no precise way to determine which ones were.

There are an estimated 200 or so known, but the 1861-C is among the rarer half eagles from this mint in Uncirculated. There are no more than three to five in Uncirculated with most in the MS60 to MS61 range. The PCGS MS63 example has long been recognized as the finest known 1861-C half eagle.

This coin was sold to a Western collector who specializes in Civil War gold. A number of his coins are finest known or Condition Census, and the inclusion of the finest known 1861-C half eagle goes a long way in cementing the fame of his impressive specialized collection.

Many experts believe that the fame and rarity of high grade 1861-C half eagles are overshadowed by its counterpart, the 1861-D. To wit, there are just four 1861-C currently graded in Uncirculated by PCGS while there are no less than 11 graded for the 1861-D. Despite this fact, a comparable 1861-D (if available) would likely sell for close to twice the asking price of the 1861-C.

The 1861-C which was just sold has been off the market since the 2000 FUN sale where it brought $59,800 (as an NGC MS63) to a sophisticated Southern gold specialist. It is pedigreed to the famous Stanley Elrod Collection, which is regarded as by far the finest set of Charlotte gold ever assembled. This specific coin was one of Mr. Elrod’s favorite pieces.

The quality of this coin is exceptional for the date and grade. It is very well-struck on a high quality planchet with a minimal number of abrasions and strong mint luster. Both sides show nice rose-gold and medium orange colors and the overall eye appeal is excellent. It is interesting to note that this coin has been graded MS63 since the 1990’s (if not earlier), and it hasn’t gradeflated, as have so many important branch mint issues.

The full pedigree of this coin is as follows: Western specialized collection ex Douglas Winter Numismatics/David Lawrence Rare Coins; Alabama collection, Heritage 1/00: 7769 ($59,800; as NGC MS63); Heritage 2/99: 6035 (unsold); William Miller Collection; Stanley Elrod Collection; New England Rare Coin Auctions 1/82: 1441.

For more information about this coin or to discuss the purchase of similar items, please contact Doug Winter via email at dwn@ont.com.