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Remarkable 1803/2 Half Eagle, BD-1, MS65
Near the Top of the Condition Census

1803/2 $5 MS65 NGC. Breen-6441, BD-1, R.4. Bass-Dannreuther Obverse State a / Reverse State b/c. The U.S. half eagles from the opening years of the 1800s are a comedy of errors. After producing normally dated half eagles in 1800, the Mint produced no 1801-dated half eagles, yet the half eagles of 1802 are all 1802/1 overdates. Similarly, although there are no normally dated (nonoverdate) 1802 half eagles, the half eagles of 1803 all are 1803/2 overdates.
This is a marvelous Gem of this popular overdate variety, one of four different 1803/2 overdate half eagle die marriages. The BD-1 through BD-3 share one overdate obverse, while the BD-4 has an obverse unique to that die pairing.
The BD-1 through BD-3 obverse die is called the "Imperfect T, 3 Free of Bust" by Bass-Dannreuther. The 3 barely keeps from grazing the lower bust outline, and the bottom right serif of the T in LIBERTY is nearly footless, save for a small, narrow sticklike projection. Most of the left bottom serif on the Y adjacent is also missing.
The BD-1 reverse is a reuse of the 1802/1 BD-7 die, even though it already had several cracks. A star point nearly touches the lower beak tip, diagnostic for the reverse. In the die state of the current piece, the die cracks include: a long, thin crack extending from the rim up through the middle arrow shafts, to the left (facing) shield border, up through the I in PLURIBUS to star 12; several wispy cracks in the area of the rim and laterally through TED; one from star 3 to the cloud above; one connecting a cloud to the bottom of E(S); a small one through the right wingtip, into the field below F.
This splendid Gem example has even yellow-gold color prevailing throughout, with touches of deeper color near the rims and surfaces that are free of any singular contact. The middle arrows on the reverse and the nearby shield border are weakly struck up, a phenomenon often seen on this variety. Minor planchet roughness occurs around stars 2, 7, and 8 above the eagle's head. A few minor planchet adjustment marks on the obverse are well-hidden in Liberty's turban cap.
This remarkable coin is one of only three examples certified MS65 at NGC, with one MS66 finer. PCGS has graded one MS65 and two MS66 (10/10). This early half eagle, from one of American numismatics' most challenging series, forms a perfect complement to the numerous other high-grade gold coins in this memorable consignment.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 25NY, PCGS# 8084)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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