Rare 1824 Half Eagle, MS63
1824 $5 MS63 PCGS. Breen-6482, BD-1, High R.5. Put in its
simplest terms, few coins of any denomination have a decade of
production and low survival such as seen in the case of half eagles
from the 1820s. Very few collectors have attempted or completed
such a set. Indeed, only one such set could be completed since
there are only three 1822 half eagles known, of which two are
impounded in the Smithsonian and only one is in private hands. The
story is well-known and has been oft-repeated how meltings took a
heavy toll on these coins as their bullion content was actually
worth more than their face value. The 1824 gives a graphic
demonstration of how severely these meltings affected this series.
The recorded mintage of the 1824 five dollar was 17,340 pieces.
Today it is believed that fewer than 20 coins exist.
Off the Market Since 1972
As a way to underscore the rarity of the 1824, Harry Bass owned only one example of this date. Only one variety is known of the 1824 and, like all the gold coins he collected, Harry made a study of the characteristics of the dies used to strike this date. The study of his single coin led him to the conclusion that the cap surface was the same on this date as used on fives from 1821. Even with only one coin in his collection and probably fewer than 20 pieces known today, Bass was able to make this observation. John Dannreuther was also able to interpret the meaning of Bass' findings and expound upon them in the BD reference:
"he (Bass) indicated has the obverse die with the old-style cap used in 1822 and prior (really 1818-1822, as the Reich hub was used 1813-1815 with no coins dated 1816 or 1817). The differences in these head punches are subtle; even direct comparison between them shows little difference between the two, three, or four heads. The main two heads are the 1813-1815 one and the 1818-1829 one. The others reported are likely modifications of the Scot head, the second one used for 1818 through the end of the type in 1829."
It would not be fair to say that this coin is unknown to the numismatic community. Two offerings of this coin are in Akers' listing of auction appearances of half eagles published in 1979. However, this piece has been off the market and in a private collection since it last appeared in public auction in 1972. And that undoubtedly explains much of the charm of this particular coin. The mint luster is thick, really thick over each side. There is no thinning in the fields, as often seen on early gold coins. The originality is unquestionable. The surfaces display medium orange-gold color with a confirmed green undertone. Close examination also shows an outline of reddish patina surrounding the devices. One remarkable aspect of this coin is the completeness of the striking details on each side: fully defined hair curls, complete star centrils, even complete plumage on the eagle. This is a remarkably clean coin for an MS63. A couple of light scuffs can be made out on the obverse, but the reverse is at least one if not two points finer in grade.
Old flips, cut-out descriptions from old catalogs, and even old photos accompany this important coin.
Ex: 1963 FUN Sale (Federal Brand, 1/1963), lot 4183, where it brought $6,750; 17th Annual Southern California Sale (RARCOA, 2/1972), lot 869, where it realized $8,000. (Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# BFY5, PCGS# 8132)
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