The 1862-S is the second rarest Civil War era half eagle from the San Francisco mint, trailing only the 1864-S. Of the 9,500 struck, only 45-55 are known with most in lower grades. The reasons for this low survival rate include heavy use in commerce, pervasive meltings, and a lack of local collectors or dealers to save any pieces, as occurred with certain Philadelphia issues from this period.Read More
Only 4,000 business strikes were made and this date is very scarce in all grades. In the higher AU grades, it is very rare and I am aware of just a single Uncirculated example (despite a PCGS population of two), the PCGS MS61 that is ex Bass II: 1169 at $14,375 back in 1999. This fresh ecoin has good eye appeal for the date and grade. It shows essentially no wear but there is just a bit too much friction on the high spots to rightfully call it Uncirculated. The semi-prooflike surfaces are touched by soft orange-gold and rose hues and this is one of just a small handful of 1870 half eagles that I have seen that haven't been processed and stripped of their full originality. The only other PCGS AU58 1870 half eagle is ex Heritage 5/05: 8647 and it aold for $8,050 back in a market in which coins like this were mostly met with indifference. A very important With Motto Liberty Head half eagle and a coin that is well up in the Condition Census for the date.
The NGC population figure of "24" in AU58 is clearly vastly inflated by resubmissions.
Variety 21-N. The 1848-D is one of the scarcer half eagles from the Dahlonega mint and it is very hard to find well struck and lustrous. This example, which appears to be from an early die state, has no clashmarks and good details even at the centers. There is a considerable amount of luster; enough, in fact, to suggest an AU55 grade were it not for some small scuffs in the fields. Not including this coin, only four PCGS AU53's have been sold at auction since 2000. When I work with collectors assembling sets of Dahlonega half eagles, the 1848-D is always among the toughest to locate.
Ex Stacks Bowers 2012 ANA: 12359 ($3,738), Keystone collection.
It's always nice when old friends come home and this wonderfully crusty 1845-O half eagle is a coin that I first offered for sale about two years ago. I re-acquired it at the Long Beach show and, if anything, I like it even more than I did then. The 1845-O half eagle remains a very rare issue in Uncirculated with an estimated eight to ten known. The NGC population for MS61's is inflated and at least one or two of the pieces I have seen in said holders have been marginal at best. This example has lovely deep green-gold and russet colors, in slightly different configurations, on the obverse and reverse. The strike is sharp and the surfaces are free of significant marks. For the sake of identification, there is a patch of dirt near the top of star seven on the obverse and a few natural copper spots on the reverse. Since 1995, only five MS61 examples of this date have appeared at auction. The last sale is Heritage 6/11: 4631 (graded by NGC) that realized $10,350; in March 2010, Heritage sold a PCGS graded coin for $12,650. An impressive coin for an advanced collection of New Orleans half eagles.
Variety 38-EE. Large D mintmark. There are two mintmark varieties known for the date. The Large D is considerably scarcer although it generally doesn't bring a big premium. As a date, the 1855-D is the third rarest Dahlonega half eagle, trailing only the 1861-D and the 1842-D Large Date. It is greatly undervalued in all grades and it is amazing that it sells for just a small premium over common issues such as the 1853-D and 1854-D. This example is weakly struck at the centers and shows light orange-gold surfaces with a hint of luster in the protected areas. If you collect Dahlonega half eagles by date or variety, you will recognize the importance of this offering.
Only three New Orleans half eagles bear the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse and the 1894-O is the penultimate of this trio. It is far scarcer than the 1893-O but not as rare as the 1892-O. The 1894-O is generally seen in the AU53-MS60 range and it is rare in properly graded MS62. In all my years of specializing in New Orleans gold I have only handled a small number finer than MS62 and the present example is a fresh, pleasing coin with natural green-gold and orange colors atop highly reflective, lightly scuffed surfaces. Only five slabbed MS62 examples of the 1894-O half eagle have appeared at auction since 2000 and the last sale was a PCGS coin that brought $3,220 as Heritage 11/11: 4331.
There are two varieties of 1846 half eagle known: the common Large Date and the scarce Small Date. The latter is generally seen in EF and AU grades and it is quite scarce in Uncirculated with probably no more than ten to fifteen currently known. This bright, frosty example exhibits light green-gold color and it is sharply impressed. As on all known examples, there is a mint-made raised mark coming from the corner of Liberty's eye; the fields surrounding the portrait have some mint-made roughness and I have seen this on a few 1846 Small Date half eagles as well. If half eagles of this era become more avidly collected (which I can almost assure you they will be...) I believe that this variety will sell for a significant premium given its widely-known scarcity.
Unlike most of the MS62 examples of this date that I have handled, this piece is not riddled with abrasions on the surfaces. It is choice and original with soft, satiny luster covered by gentle green-gold hues. The 1893-O is the most available of the three With Motto half eagles and it is the only one that can be found, from time to time, in MS62 to MS63 grades. At half the price of an MS63, I like the value that this piece affords.
A textbook example for the grade with good detail, outstanding peripheral orange-gold color and a decent amount of remaining luster. The 1852-C is among the more common Charlotte half eagles which make this a perfect date for type purposes. Some light marks in the left obverse field do not detract.
CAC has approved three in this grade with twelve finer.