Unsung Rarity Among Classic Head Fives
1834 $5 Crosslet 4 MS62 PCGS. Second Head, Breen-6503, McCloskey
5-D, R.4. The present coin is conditionally an important
rarity, although one that often goes unrecognized as such. There
are three factors that contribute to this misperception. First is
the "shared date" 1834, contributing to the mistaken impression
that all 1834 Classic Heads are less rare than the earlier 1834
Capped Head fives, which are melt rarities in any and all grades --
whether Plain 4 or Crosslet 4.
1834 Crosslet 4, MS62, Second Head, R.4
Mid-Condition Census Example
But nothing could be further from the truth. Only the Plain 4 Classic Head 1834s are relatively common.
The second factor is the widespread availability of low-grade Classic Head 1834 half eagles -- virtually all of them Plain 4s -- which make frequent appearances in the numismatic market due to their plentiful mintage exceeding 650,000 pieces. Third and last, even many advanced numismatists fail to realize there is a vast difference in rarity -- in all grade levels but becoming more pronounced in the high Mint State grades -- between the Plain 4 and Crosslet 4 1834 Classic Heads.
The Crosslet 4 Classic Head half eagles are seen far less often than the Plain 4 coins. David Akers writes in PCGS CoinFacts, "The 1834 No Motto, Plain 4 is by far the commonest Half Eagle to this point. It is available in all grades up to and including choice uncirculated." In contrast, Akers says of the 1834 Classic Head Crosslet 4:
"The 1834 No Motto, Crosslet 4 is many times more rare than the 1834 Plain 4. It has appeared at auction less often than any other date of this type including the 1838-C, and actually is just as rare as many of the more well known dates of the previous two types. Most known specimens are well worn with VF to EF being typical and AU and Unc. virtually unavailable."
The difference is stark at PCGS, which has seen 170 Mint State grading events for the 1834 Plain 4, which it has seen eight for the 1834 Crosslet 4. The present piece is one of five such in MS62 PCGS, with only two in MS63 finer (10/12).
The present piece, certified MS62 by PCGS, appears to be in the mid-Condition Census for this variety. The prevailing deep orange-gold color picks up a slight accent of red around the margins. The fields are slightly bright, but not like the often-seen prooflike or semiprooflike Plain 4 1834 Classic Heads. Light, numerous abrasions appear, commensurate with the grade; the only one of singular note is a long diagonal mark in the lower left reverse field.
This coin is the finest we have offered since our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2177, where another example in the same grade brought $25,000.(Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 25RU, PCGS# 8172)
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