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1799 Half Eagle, MS62
Small Stars Reverse, BD-1
Elusive Early Variety

1799 $5 Small Stars Reverse MS62 PCGS. Breen-6433, BD-1, High R.5. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b/d. The 1799 Capped Bust Right half eagle claims a mintage of just 7,451 pieces, with nine different die varieties known for the date. Seven varieties used a small star punch on the reverse, with two dies employing a larger star punch. Probably 1,500-2,500 pieces of the original mintage were of the rare BD-1 variety, represented by the coin offered here. The BD-1 variety is recognized by the position of the 1 in the date near the curl, and the Cross Star pattern on the reverse, with stars 3, 8, 9, 10, and 11 in a straight line. The obverse die was used only for this variety, but the reverse had been used to strike the 1798 BD-8 variety.
In Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, John Dannreuther estimates the surviving population of the BD-1 variety at just 35-45 pieces. This seems like a liberal figure, since PCGS has certified only 54 specimens of all the Small Stars varieties together. Unfortunately, the grading service does not differentiate between the various Small Stars die marriages, but the BD-1 is known to be quite elusive.
This coin shows a light crack through stars 10-13 on the obverse, and a crack from the edge to the eagle's beak on the reverse, with the reverse heavily clashed, indicating Die State b/d. Later die states reveal further clashing, lapping, and cracks, suggesting both dies probably failed with this issue, most likely at the same time.
The present coin is an attractive MS62 specimen, with vivid orange and greenish-gold surfaces that show prooflike reflectivity in sheltered areas. A touch of softness is evident on the central devices, and a scattering of minor contact marks explains the grade. Population (for all Small Stars varieties): 11 in 62, 10 finer (11/11).
From The Harvey B. Jacobson, Jr. Collection.(Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 25NT, PCGS# 8081)

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 11
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