Gem Charlotte Half Eagles: The Elite Eight

In my last blog, I wrote about a Gem 1855-C half eagle that I was fortunate to recently handle. A number of readers asked me about some of the other Gem half eagles from this mint and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at each of these. There are a total of eight Charlotte half eagles that have been graded MS65 or better by either PCGS or NGC (or by both services in some cases). Many are very famous coins within the Charlotte gold collecting community. A few are not quite as famous and are not given the full "props" that the others have received in the past. Let's take a quick peek at each of the eight Gem Charlotte half eagles.

1842-C Large Date Graded MS65 by NGC, ex Milas/Eliasberg. This coin has a pedigree dating back to 1920 when John Clapp Jr. purchased it from Elmer Sears. It was later in the Eliasberg collection and it brought $17,600 (a comparably high price) when it was sold at auction in 1982. The coin was later owned by Chicago dealer Ed Milas and was offered in the Stack's May 1995 sale of his superb collection of No Motto half eagles. It is now owned by a North Carolina collector and it has been off the market for close to a decade.

1846-C Graded NS65 by NGC, ex Elrod/Eliasberg. This is one of my all-time favorite Charlotte half eagles. It was purchased by John Clapp Sr. out of the David Wilson sale conducted by S.H. Chapman in March 1907. It was later owned by Louis Eliasberg and it brought a reasonable $13,200 in October 1982. The famous specialist Stanley Elrod then owned the coin and I bought it in the late 1980's/early 1990's when the Elrod collection was being dispersed. I then sold the coin to Paul Dingler and bought it back in 2005. It is now owned by a West Coast collector. Funny story: when I was selling this coin to Paul Dingler, I had a hard time convincing him that this coin was as great as I believed. It turned out that Paul was color-blind and the dark, crusty color that this coin exhibited (at the time) was hard for him to appreciate. He did take my word for it and this 1846-C half eagle became a centerpiece of his fantastic collection.

1847-C Graded MS65 by PCGS, ex: Pittman/Farouk. As far as I know, this is one of only two of the Elite Eight that is currently in a PCGS holder. It has a wonderful pedigree that goes back to the Col. Green collection and it was later in the King Farouk and John Pittman sales. I first saw the coin in the Akers 10/97 Pittman Part One auction where it brought $44,000. It was last sold as Heritage 4/02: 6986 where it brought $47,150. I do not know the current location of this impressive Gem.

1849-C Graded MS66 by NGC. This coin was discovered by Avena Numismatics back around 1997 and was first offered for sale as Bowers and Merena 8/98: 330 where it did not meet its reserve. It finally found a home after appearing in the Bowers and Merena 3/04 auction realizing $70,150. It is clearly the finest known 1849-C half eagle. I am not aware of the current location of this coin.

1852-C Graded MS65 by NGC, ex: Silvertowne Hoard. In 1984 or 1985, a group of five remarkable 1852-C half eagles from a family in Southern Indiana was sold to Silvertowne Numismatics. One of the five (I'm not certain which) was later graded MS65 by NGC after having been graded MS64 by PCGS. Interestingly, the second part of this hoard came on the market in December 2007 when a Florida firm offered them for sale. The 1852-C half eagles from this hoard are notable for their superb original color, great luster and high overall level of eye appeal.

1855-C Graded MS65 by NGC, ex: Elrod. Having just written extensively about this coin, I'd prefer not to be reptetitive and suggest you read my blog dated April 8, 2009 for more information.

1857-C Graded MS65 by NGC, ex Elrod. This coin is from the famous Elrod collection and it was first sold at auction in February 1999 as part of the Heritage William Miller auction where it failed to meet its reserve. It reappeared as Heritage 1/03: 4797, in an NGC MS64 holder, where it sold for $33,350. I saw this coin within the last year in a dealer's inventory.

1859-C Graded MS66 by PCGS, ex Milas/Eliasberg. While not widely-known outside of the specialist community, this incredible coin gets my vote for the single finest Charlotte half eagle in existence. It was purchased by John Clapp, Sr. in 1910 from Elmer Sears and was later in the Eliasberg collection. It sold for just $8,800 in October 1982 and this cheap price can be attributed to the relative unsophistication of the branch mint market at that time. After appearing in a number of auctions in the mid-1980's it wound-up in Ed Milas' set of Gem No Motto half eagles where it sold for $104,500. I haven't seen this coin for many years but I remember it being superb and hope that it has retained its superb original color and luster.

It is remarkable to think that only eight Gem Charlotte half eagles exist, considering that close to 900,000 pieces were struck between 1838 and 1861. The collectors who own any of the Elite Eight have coins that, in my opinion, are truly worthy of the overused designation "world-class."