The 1866-S With Motto half eagle is numismatically significant as a transitional issue and as the first year of issue for the new With Motto design from this mint. While 34,920 were struck, this issue saw heavy circulation in the booming Western economy and most were later melted. Today there are fewer than 100 known, mostly in VF and EF grades. The 1866-S With Motto half eagle is unknown in Uncirculated and it is a strong R-7 in AU with fewer than 10 properly graded examples known.
This is the best 1866-S With Motto half eagle I have owned in over a decade and this fresh-to-the-market coin is plated in PCGS Coin Facts.. It exhibits a majority of its original luster and the surfaces, while possessing some scattered marks, are far cleaner than usual for this roughly handled date. As usual, the mintmark is small and lightly impressed but it can be seen with the naked eye. I believe this piece is comfortably in the Condition Census for the issue and it is the finest currently available to collectors.
No PCGS AU55 has ever sold at auction and the last NGC AU55 crossed the block all the way back in 2004 where it sold for $8,050. PCGS shows a population of three coin better than this (all AU58) but none has ever sold at auction.
Until recently, coins like this were ignored by collectors but they are finally receiving their due. That said, condition rarities from the San Francisco mint remain an undervalued area of the rare date gold market.