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1808 Half Eagle, Wide 5D, BD-4, MS62
Unlisted Bass-Dannreuther Die State
With Bold Clashing on Both Sides

1808 $5 MS62 PCGS. Wide 5D, Breen-6457, BD-4, High R.3. Unlisted Bass-Dannreuther Die State. The Wide 5D is slightly more common than the BD-3 Normal 5D 1808, which together constitute the only two nonoverdate varieties of the year. The Bass-Dannreuther reference notes that Harry W. Bass, Jr. only owned two examples. But the more interesting comment is this one:

"This variety is the first early gold coin that seems to have a single die state for both dies for the entire production run. Because it is estimated that possibly 20,000 coins of this variety were struck, this is remarkable. The obverse die was lapped to remove prior clashing, while the reverse die remains perfect throughout the striking period."

On most examples the obverse die was lapped, apparently from an early clash that left faint traces--the small triangle shape below the earlobe, the faint scroll mark below the drapery, both visible in the Bass-Dannreuther photo. Yet this coin is boldly clashed, with both top and bottom borders of the scroll seen in the date area, and portions of E PLURIBUS UNUM visible inside the scroll.
The reverse die as embodied on this piece is hardly '"perfect throughout the striking period"; rather, it shows bold clashing that outlines much of Liberty's portrait all around the reverse. Much of 1808 can be made out in the area around ES O.
This piece is sharply struck overall, with rich reddish-gold patina and superior luster. Numerous small abrasions scattered over each side account for the grade, and a couple of wispy semicircular marks appear in the left obverse field.
As a scintillating example of a die state that is apparently previously unknown, this piece should provide many rewards for die state specialists studying early gold.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 4U57, PCGS# 8102)

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Auction Dates
September, 2010
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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