1853-D $5.00 NGC MS63

Large D. Winter Variety 29-V. 1853-D half eagles are generally seen with two "looks." On most coins, the strike is soft and the rims are beveled. On a smaller number, the strike is sharp and the rims are fully formed. The present example is clearly one of the sharpest 1853-D half eagles that I have seen and it is as sharp as you would expect a Philadelphia half eagle of this era to be. The coin is very frosty with nice medium yellow-gold and orange color. There are a few small marks near the bridge of Liberty's nose; what appears to be a scratch from star two to star four on the left side of the obverse is mint-made. This is among the three or four most common dates in the Dahlonega half eagle series but it is rare in Uncirculated and very rare in MS63. There have been six auction records since 2000 in this grade but at least three are for the same coin. The last record of note is Superior 8/07: 953 (at $15,525) which was graded MS63 by PCGS. A word or two on value: in the recent Stack's Bowers November auction, an 1854-D half eagle in MS64+ (admittedly a nicer coin than this 1853-D but a comparable date) sold for a strong $49,450 while a pair of 1852-C half eagles (which are similar in rarity to the 1853-D) graded MS63 and MS63+ by PCGS both brought between $18,000 and $19,000. After years of neglect, the market for very high grade C+D half eagles is finally turning around and collectors are beginning to recognize the great values that these coins represent.