US Coins

No magnification needed for early half eagle overdate

The early Philadelphia Mint had to be resourceful, and the earliest coins struck at that Mint show the adaptability of the workers to meet the needs of commerce.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries offered a handsome Mint State 61 1797/5 Capped Bust, Heraldic Eagle gold $5 half eagle at its Feb. 28 Baltimore Rarities Night auction. The Numismatic Guaranty Corp. certified piece with a prominent obverse overdate — one of just 15 to 20 known — sold for $180,000. It appears that no effort was made to efface the 5 in the date when the die was transformed from 1795 to 1797.

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It is listed as Bass-Dannreuther 7 in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties and is one of three die marriages of 1797 half eagles with the Heraldic Eagle reverse. The other two varieties are unique, each represented by single examples in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution. 

The catalog adds, “A representative of BD Die State b/d, where the obverse die was lapped prior to striking this coin, with no further signs of clashing or cracks. The reverse was shattered yet retained the ability to strike up the devices rather well,” and the reverse shows extensive die cracks. 

The finest known example of the variety, graded MS-62+ by Professional Coin Grading Service, brought $223,250 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ and Sotheby’s second D. Brent Pogue sale in New York on Sept. 30, 2015. 

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