As a date, the 1840-C half eagle is a scarce and numismatically significant issue. It is the first year in which half eagles were made at this mint with the new, modified head, and the first year in which the mintmark was placed on the reverse. In the third edition of my book “Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint, 1838-1861,” I rank it as the fourth rarest of 24 Charlotte half eagles, and believe it is the third rarest in high grades. My estimate is that there are around 150 known in all grades with most in the Very Fine to Extremely Fine range. In Uncirculated, the 1840-C half eagles is very rare with five or six known.Read More
Around a year ago, I was outbid on an amazing PCGS MS63+ 1821 half eagle. I was pretty bummed at the time as this was a coin which I truly wanted to own. But the final price realized was just too much and I walked away from the coin.Read More
While typically lumped with the 1893-O, the 1894-O is far scarcer in all grades. It is seldom seen above AU58 to MS60 and most of the Uncirculated examples known are excessively baggy MS60 to MS61 coins. Properly graded MS62 pieces are very rare as evidenced by the fact that PCGS has graded but four in MS62 with a scant two finer. There have been just two auction records for PCGS MS62 examples in the last seven years: Stack's 3/10: 1585 which brought $4,313 and Heritage 1/04: 7069 that sold for $4,140. This is the first 1894-O half eagle that I've owned in "real" MS62 in close to five years. It is mostly prooflike with splashes of golden-orange color atop vibrant surfaces that are moderately abraded. None of these marks is deep or terribly detracting and most are seen in the left obverse field. This is a true condition rarity and it is a numismatically significant issue, as well, due to its status as the final With Motto half eagle made at the New Orleans mint.
BD-7, R-4. Small 8 over Large 8 (also known as the Normal/Large 8 variety). From the standpoint of varieties, the 1804 half eagle contains some of the most visually impressive varieties in the entire early gold series. One of my favorites is the 1804 Small 8 over Large 8 which has among the most dramatic repunchings seen on any American coin ever produced. This variety is moderately scarce with an estimated 100-150 known, mostly in lower grades. This very lustrous example has attractive light yellowish-gold color with slightly deeper greenish hues at the obverse border. From the standpoint of wear (or lack of it) and "meat," this piece grades at least AU58 but it has been net graded down to an AU55 by PCGS due to a small scrape on the obverse from the cap up through the space between IB in LIBERTY. The reverse of this coin is especially choice and it grades at least MS61 on its own accord. Heritage 8/11: 7515, also graded AU55 by PCGS and approved by CAC, realized $12,650. This is one of six examples of this variety to have been approved by CAC in AU55 with nine better.
Capped Bust Left variety. BD-8, Rarity-2. In 1807, the old Capped Bust Right Heraldic Eagle reverse half eagle design was changed by John Reich. This makes 1807 an interesting transitional year for the half eagle denomination with two distinct design available to collectors. As a set, the 1807 transitional half eagles are highly completable in nearly any desired grade. The present 1807 Bust Left half eagle is as an original an early gold coin of any date or denomination that you are likely to find. It shows superb deep green-gold hues that are accentuated by splashes of coppery-gold in the open fields. There is just a tiny amount of friction seen on the high spots and the quality of the surfaces is outstanding with a virtual absence of marks. Below the toning there is a good amount of luster and if this coin were (gasp!) dipped, it would become apparent that it is a very lustrous coin. Even though this is a reasonably common issue, it has become extremely hard to find examples with this degree of eye appeal and originality. In fact, you could search for along time and not find a nicer AU 1807 half eagle than this!
Small Date variety. An attractive, evenly worn example with nearly enough to detail to grade EF40 but with a few old, well-hidden surface marks keeping this at the Choice VF level. On both sides, the color is a uniform deep green-gold. A scarce date in any grade and a very hard coin to locate with original color and surfaces. This is the only 1842-D Small Date half eagle in any grade below EF40 to have been approved by CAC.
The rarity of the 1862-1865 Philadelphia half eagles has been misunderstood for decades. Despite low mintages and no real reason why any should have survived, these coins have traditionally been overlooked in favor of less rare branch mint issues. But the word is finally out on the 1864 half eagle and I, for one, think this coin's sudden appreciation with collectors is long overdue. Only 4,170 business strikes were made and I doubt if more than 60-80 are known in all grades. This date becomes very rare in properly graded AU50 and above and the last PCGS 53 to sell at auction was in May 2000. A PCGS 55 just sold for $9,200 in the last Heritage auction (9/11, lot 4316). This lightly toned example has splashes of tangerine-gold color on the obverse and reverse and is nicely detailed. There are a few marks on the obverse including a series of three small abrasions ( a reeding mark?) from the chin and a light mark or two on the cheek. A nice example of this Civil War rarity.
BD-4, High Rarity-4. This variety is easily recognized by the reverse cuds at ES in STATES and O in OF. There have actually been a fairly decent number of 1798 half eagles on the market in the last few months and with the exception of a few, I have been largely unimpressed. Most had been dipped at one time and most were liberally abraded. I like this coin because it is very original and because it is clean. I think it compares favorably to other 1798 half eagles that I've seen in MS61 holders and it would not look out of place in such a slab. The color of this coin is exceptional with splendid rich orange-gold that deepens to red at the left obverse and throughout much of the reverse. There is a slight amount of friction on the high spots and a number of adjustment marks (mint-made, of course) on the reverse that form a criss-cross pattern within the shield and the inner parts of the wings. As is typical of this variety, the centers are not as sharp as the borders and I have seen similar adjustment marks on a number of 1798 BD-4 half eagles. The originality and eye appeal of this coin make it very special and this is a wonderful piece of 18th century American gold.
BD-2. R-4. The Capped Head Left, Large Diameter type, struck from 1813 through 1829, contains some of the rarest gold issues ever produced by the United States mint. Only the 1813 is somewhat readily available in the lower Uncirculated grades and this makes it the ideal date for use in a type set of U.S. gold. This example is original and choice for the grade with very nice intense lemon-gold color on both sides. The strike is typical for the date with some softness on the border beads but good overall detail at the centers. There is some light marking in the obverse and reverse fields that limits the grade but the freshness and eye appeal of this coin make it as nice a Fat Head half eagle as you are likely to find in this grade and price range. The next grade up (in a PCGS holder and with a CAC sticker) will cost you over $55,000 if you can even find one!
CAC has given approval to ten examples in this grade and seven higher than this.