SOLD – $5.00 – 1798 Small 8, 13 Star Reverse, PCGS AU55 CAC

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SOLD – $5.00 – 1798 Small 8, 13 Star Reverse, PCGS AU55 CAC


Serial Number 507326.55/25680451

PCGS Lookup Number 507326

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BD-6, R-6.

The 1798 is the first year in which the Heraldic eagle reverse half eagles, produced since 1795, are available to the early gold collector with a reasonably limited budget. There are no less than three distinct varieties available and these are as follows:
Small or Normal 8: BD-6 (rare), BD-7 (extremely rare) and BD-8 (rare). This variety is described in more detail below.

  • Large 8 with 13 Reverse Stars: BD-2 (very rare), BD-4 (the most common 1798 half eagle) and BD-5 (scarce). This variety is by far the most available 1798 half eagle. It is seen in AU grades but not often with natural color and choice surfaces. In the lower Uncirculated grades, it becomes scarce and it is very rare in MS63 and above. Pogue 2: 2077 grades PCGS MS63 and the best I have seen is an NGC/CAC MS64 which last sold for $155,250 as Heritage 8/11: 7507.
  • Large 8 with 14 Reverse Stars: BD-3 (rare to very rare). This variety is the rarest Heraldic Eagle 1798 $5.00. There are likely no more than three dozen known, mostly in the VF-EF range. The only one known to me in Uncirculated is an NGC MS60 which sold for a remarkable $115,000 in the Goldberg 2/07 auction.

The present example is among the best 1798 Small 8 half eagles I have ever seen from the standpoint of strike, originality and eye appeal. This is an intermediate die state with extensive cracks on both sides but the centers show far better than normal definition, especially at the central obverse. Unlike nearly every known 1798 Small 8 half eagle, this piece has lovely natural color with medium orange-gold hues on both sides. The surfaces show fewer marks than normal with a small area of rubbing located at around 5:00 on the obverse the only thing worthy of mention.

Looked at as a variety, the 1798 Small 8 half eagle is rare in properly graded AU55 to AU58 and exceedingly rare in Uncirculated. The finest known is an NGC MS63 which brought $49,450 as Bowers and Merena 3/04: 3001. The Bass Core Collection example appears to grade in the AU58 to MS61 range and the Pogue example, which will be sold in a few weeks, is a PCGS AU58 with noticeable adjustment marks at the central obverse.

The most recent comparable is an NGC AU55+ which sold for $19,975 as Heritage 1/15: 4285. Heritage 1/10: 2154, graded AU55 by PCGS and in an old green label holder, sold for $20,700. Neither was remotely as choice as the present example.

This remarkable coin is desirable both as an 18th century type example and as a trophy for the advanced date collector who has been searching for the “right” 1798 for his early half eagle set. It is a coin which is many times scarcer than a comparable 1795 Heraldic Eagle $5.00 at a fraction of the price and it is great value in my opinion.

CAC has approved three in this grade with none finer. For the variety, only seven have been approved by CAC.