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1826 Capped Head Half Eagle, MS65
Rare Early Gold Issue, BD-1 Variety
High Condition Census Example

1826 $5 MS65 NGC. BD-1, R.5. Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/c. The 1826 Capped Head half eagle is a rare issue from one of the most challenging series in American numismatics. Mint records indicate that 18,069 five dollar gold pieces were struck in 1826, a small mintage in absolute terms, but not unusually small in the context of the series. Both David Akers and PCGS estimate only 30-35 examples survive today in all grades. Even that tiny estimate may be too large, as NGC has certified only seven coins, all in Mint State grades, while PCGS has graded 12 total examples, ranging from AU55 to MS66 (1/14). Several coins are held in institutional collections, with one uncertified example in the Smithsonian Institution and another in the Connecticut State Library. Two proof specimens are listed in the literature, one in the Smithsonian and another, ex: Waldo Newcomer; Farouk, that is currently untraced. The finest Mint State example, the fabulous MS66 BD-2 specimen from the David and Sharon Akers Collection, sold in Heritage Auctions' January 2014 Fun Signature for a record $763,750.

Two die varieties are known for the date, with this coin representing the rare BD-1 variety, identified by the low position of star 13 and the Large Letters reverse. Although the BD-1 is rare in today's market, it probably accounted for the majority of the reported mintage, as only three examples of the other variety (BD-2, Small Letters) are known. This was the only use of the obverse die, but the reverse was previously used to strike the 1820 BD-4, BD-5, and BD-7 varieties. The reverse die was lapped prior to its use in 1826, resulting in some loss of detail on the eagle's claws and leaves. A small die lump is located between the top branch and the second branch, and another is evident below the leaves, near the rim at 7 o'clock.

The 1826 Capped Head half eagle has been prized by collectors since the earliest days of the hobby. One early auction appearance was in lot 1650 of the Fifth Semi-Annual Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1864):

"1826 Splendid impression, nearly proof; exceedingly rare."

The lot realized $35.00, a strong price at the time, to J.O. Emery, a New York collector and restaurateur. Because of the small mintage, many high-grade 1826 half eagles have prooflike surfaces, as noted in Woodward's description.

The present coin is a delightful Gem, probably the second or third-finest known example. The 1826 appears at auction about once per year on the average, and we believe this coin is the only MS65-certified example ever offered publicly. The MS66 Akers coin mentioned above is the only 1826 half eagle in higher numeric grade that has ever appeared at auction. This coin exhibits razor-sharp definition on most design elements, with full star radials and just some slight incompleteness, due to lapping, on the eagle's claws and leaves. The well-preserved greenish-gold surfaces show a few hints of reddish patina, with vibrant mint luster on both sides. No mentionable distractions are evident and eye appeal is terrific. This coin should find a home in the finest collection or Registry Set.
Ex: Alex Shuford Collection (Abe Kosoff, 5/1968), lot 1958; Donald Carter; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/1998), lot 7778, realized $87,400; February Auction (Superior, 2/1999), lot 3186.
From the collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 25R4, PCGS# 8135)

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Auction Dates
Feb-Mar, 2014
27th-2nd Thursday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 17
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,526

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