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.
A very visually impressive example with lightly abraded, slightly Prooflike fields that are accentuated by rich yellow-gold color. The strike is really hammered for the date with many of the hair strands showing full, individual definition. It is likely that this coin never entered circulation and it is terrific eye appeal. The next jump up in quality for the 1853 double eagle will result in at least double the price and it is doubtful that many of the slabbed MS61 examples will have the appearance that this gem slider does.
Back before the discovery of the S.S. Central America, the 1857-S double eagle was actually a scarce coin and this piece, with its obvious non-seawater surfaces, represents what would have been just about the best available quality for the date way back when. To my eyes, this is a fully Uncirculated coin with superb natural orange-gold color and bold, unbroken luster. There are light, uniform scuffs on both the obverse and the reverse but this piece is exceptional for the grade. It is interesting to note that many inferior SSCA AU examples of the 1857-S sell for a premium over the far more rare pieces with natural surfaces.
CAC has approved six in this grade with 36 finer. It is impossible to break these numbers down into SSCA and non-SSCA totals.
Battle Born Collection pedigree. The 1879-CC has the lowest mintage figure of any Carson City gold coin and it was traditionally regarded as the rarest eagle from this mint. Of the 1,762 produced, only four dozen or so are known. But in recent years, the popularity (and price) of this rarity has been trumped by the 1870-CC and now the 1879-CC is actually, in my opinion, extremely undervalued when compared to such issues as the 1872-CC, 1873-CC, 1877-CC and 1878-CC eagles. This is one of the more lustrous 1879-CC eagles that I have seen with very vibrant semi-prooflike surfaces that show virtually no wear. There are some contact marks in the obverse fields that are accentuated by the depth of the luster; the reverse has some minor nicks in the fields. I bought this coin in the recent Battle Born sale and thought it was an incredible bargain for a number of reasons. Firstly, I saw a PCGS EF45 1879-CC eagle recently sell for close to $30,000 and that coin wasn't close to the present example from a quality standpoint. Secondly, I saw coins in the Battle Born sale (like the 1878-CC in NGC AU58 which brought $80,500) that were not close to being as rare as the 1879-CC sell for significantly more. Remember; this is a date that used to sell for more than the 1870-CC and which is probably the second rarest CC eagle in terms of rarity. A very important Carson City eagle.
Formerly in the Battle Born collection (Lot 11029) where it brought $41,688; earlier sold to the owner of this collection by me in Augsut 2002.
There are a small number of Gem Sliders known for this date and when they become available, collectors get excited. The reason is simple: an MS61 example of this date, if available, is now approaching $40,000 and a very high end AU58 like this coin is a remarkable value at less than half the price. This piece probably never entered circulation and it has glassy semi-prooflike surfaces with rich light green-gold that is accentuated by splashes of rich lime-gold across the central obverse. The strike is as sharp as one could hope for and there is just the slightest amount of bag friction on the high spots of the obverse. A small mark on the obverse can be seen between stars two and three and it seems to be mint-made. An exciting coin for the advanced collector of New Orleans gold.
CAC has approved two in this grade and two finer.
The 1835 is many times scarcer than the 1834 Plain 4 although it sells for just a small premium. This very choice example is fully original with choice surfaces, a good strike and pleasing russet color that becomes iridescent as the surfaces are tilted towards a light source. I was able to acquire a few very nice CAC-approved Classic Head half eagles at the Philly ANA show and these are far, far nicer than usual for the grade.
CAC has approved fourteen in this grade with just four higher than this.
Classic Head variety. If you are a collector with a $2,500-5,000 per coin budget and you like "old gold," it is a natural to look at Classic Head quarter eagles and half eagles. And there are few coins more appealing than a "gem slider" Classic Head half eagle, especially with the look of this piece. Both the obverse and reverse have glorious natural fiery reddish-gold color with the obverse more intense in hue than the reverse. There is no real wear; just some friction and bag handling in the fields on both sides. You'd have to spend at least double the asking price of this coin to find one that was nicer and even than it might not have this coin's wonderful overall eye appeal.
CAC has approved twenty-four in this grade with another nineteen finer.
Old Green Label holder. By today's standards, I grade this coin MS60 to MS61. Original and uncleaned with just a few scattered marks seen in the fields. Not a really common date but there is no premium for this issue until you get into the MS63 to MS64 range.
This is the only CAC example of this date in AU58; twenty-eight have been approved in grades higher than AU58.