US Coins

Rare gold half eagle in Stack's Bowers auction

Stack’s Bowers Galleries will host the official auctions of the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Summer Expo on June 21 to 23, with additional online offerings June 26 and 27.

The upcoming installment of the thrice-yearly Whitman Expo will be at its longtime home, the Baltimore Convention Center, June 22 to 25.

Legitimate gold coin resistance from the U.S. MintGold coin resistance at U.S. Mint and a deceptive but detectable counterfeit Indian Head cent: Another column in the June 12 Coin World details the discovery of what seemed to be a rare 1917 French Indo-China 10-cent piece.

Among the highlights is an 1810 Capped Bust, Large Date, Small 5 gold $5 half eagle, of the variety listed as BD-3 in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties: A Study of Die States, 1795-1834, by John W. Dannreuther and Harry W. Bass Jr., where the authors exclaimed, “This is the rarity of the type!” It is graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as Fine Details, Mount Removed, and it was likely formerly housed in jewelry, with evidence of its prior mounting visible the top of the obverse (and corresponding bottom of the reverse). 

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Researchers have identified four listed die marriages of the 1810 Capped Bust half eagle — each one with a separate listing in A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”). The BD-3 variety is the rarest of the four, with Stack’s Bowers finding just four survivors in all grades — a task made more complicated since some examples have been misattributed in the past. The finest known is considered About Uncirculated 50 and is part of the Bass Collection housed at the American Numismatic Association Money Museum. 

The next finest is graded Very Fine 25 by PCGS and sold in February 2016 as part of the auctioneer’s offering of the D. Brent Pogue Collection where it brought $56,400. It was one of only a handful of circulated coins in the Pogue Collection, but the absence of any collectible finer examples required a well-circulated example of this issue.

Two other examples of the coin have problems: one with a PCGS net grade of VF-30 has smoothed fields that were “brushed in a manner to simulate mint lustre,” and the subject coin, which was formerly housed in jewelry. Stack’s Bowers notes that its provenance is unknown, before concluding, “this coin represents a fleeting bidding opportunity for the early gold variety specialist.”

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