US Coins

Why this 1795 Flowing Hair half tops Legend auction

Legend Rare Coin Auctions’ Regency Auction XVIII took place Sept. 29 in Las Vegas as part of the Professional Coin Grading Service Member’s Only show and, as typical with the auctioneer, toned coins — especially Morgan dollars — captured the attention of bidders.

In a post-auction press release, Legend said that its strong prices were the result of collectors buying for their collections, as opposed to dealers buying for inventory, noting that 90 percent of the lots went directly to collectors or their agents. 

Here is one of three notable lots we're profiling in this week's Market Analysis: 

The Lot:

1795 Flowing Hair half dollar, MS-63, CAC

The Price:


The Story:

The top lot of Legend’s Regency XVIII auction was a 1795 Flowing Hair half dollar graded Mint State 63 by PCGS with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. Walter Breen illustrated the coin in his book Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, 1722-1989, describing it thusly: “The solitary coin nearest to qualifying as a presentation piece for the year ... Though this piece shows no mirror like finish in fields, it was carefully positioned and given two blows in perfect alignment.”

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Breen added, “I am reliably informed that it came from an old Philadelphia collection of illustrious antecedents,” before suggesting that it was made to celebrate the first striking of 1795 half dollars. 

Flowing Hair half dollar history

Flowing Hair half dollar: The Flowing Hair obverse design used in 1794 and 1795 was designed by Mint Engraver Robert Scot. Several different Liberty Head and Eagle device punches were used, which created varieties sought today by collectors.

Though Breen’s speculation cannot be confirmed, it is among the finest known examples of the Two Leaves type (as opposed to another reverse type that has three leaf clusters under the eagle’s wings on the reverse). Legend cited a 1990 auction where it realized $68,750 and it brought $176,250 in Las Vegas, 26 years later.

Keep reading analysis of Legend's Regency XVIII auction:

Toned 1881-S Morgan dollar   Beautiful toning likely boosted Morgan dollar price by up to $20,000: Legend’s auctions are well-known for offering some spectacular rainbow toned Morgan silver dollars and the Sept. 29 sale was no exception. 
1896-S Morgan dollar   Prooflike Morgan dollar beloved by consignor sells for $111,625: Legend said that it was once graded MS-67 Prooflike by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and that in absence of any certified Deep Mirror Prooflike examples, this is considered the finest Prooflike example.

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