1838-D $5.00 NGC AU53

The 1838-D isn't the rarest half eagle from this mint (that honor belongs to the 1842-D Large Date) nor is it the most historically significant (take a bow, 1861-D) but it is the most numismatically significant as it is the first issue from this mint and the only half eagle employing the Classic Head design. The 1838-D isn't really that rare from the standpoint of overall number known but most survivors are in lower grades and the few choice examples that exist tend to be in tightly-held private collections. The 1838-D is seldom seen with original color and surfaces and this fresh-to-the-market example (accompanied by an old handwritten manila envelope) has a considerable amount of natural mint luster visible below medium greenish-gold and pale orange splashes. The detail is excellent for the issue with the centers showing nice definition while there are no surface marks of consequence. There is a small obverse rim bump at 11:00 on the obverse where the coin appears to have been dropped onto a hard surface at one time. This issue is always in demand and with very marginal quality EF-ish coins now selling in the $5,000-7,000, this fully AU example makes sense from a value standpoint.

Ex Stack's Bowers 3/12: 7490 where it sold for $9,775; from the Demarete collection.

1838-D $5.00 PCGS EF40

I can't think of a Dahlonega issue that is more popular than the 1838-D half eagle. It is the first coin of this denomination made at this mint and it is a one-year type with the popular Classic Head design and the presence of the mintmark on the obverse. It is not a major rarity but it is an issue that appears on nearly every Dahlonega specialists' want list; as well as on many non-D mint collectors as well. This moderately worn example is given above-average eye appeal by its rich reddish gold color that outlines the devices on the obverse and reverse. As is typical for the issue, there are some scattered marks in the fields. The originality of this piece is further demonstrated by the presence of dirt in the protected areas of the obverse. It has been quite a while since I have had an affordable, middle grade example of the 1838-D half eagle in stock and I expect this coin to sell quickly.

1838-D $5.00 PCGS MS62

The 1838-D is certainly not the rarest half eagle from this mint (this honor belongs to the 1842-D Large Date and the 1861-D) but it is clearly the most popular. This is due to its twin status as a first-year-of-issue and the only Classic Head half eagle from this mint. The 1838-D has become incredibly hard to locate in higher grades, due to the extreme popularity of this issue with multiple buyers: type coin collectors, fancy coin collectors, Classic Head specialists, half eagle collectors and, of course, Dahlonega dudes. There are around ten to twelve known in Uncirculated but the only one that has been available in the past few years is the wonderful Heritage 1/11: 5105 coin, graded MS63 by PCGS, which sold for $57,500. The last example in MS62 to sell is this coin which was last offered in 2007 (see the pedigree below) and none had been offered for a few years before this. The present example is unusual in that it is prooflike and especially well struck; this suggests that it may have been among the very first made and most 1838-D half eagles have a frosty texture. The color is light green-gold and there are not many marks on the surfaces save for a few scattered marks in the obverse fields. I don't often say this but passing on the coin could result in waiting another five years or more in locating a good qualty high grade 1838-D. If you need to fill this hole in your collection of Dahlonega half eagles, consider the opportunity cost!

ex Heritage 2007 ANA: 1919 where it sold for $37,375