Choice 1828/7 Half Eagle, BD-1
1828/7 $5 MS64 NGC. CAC. Breen-6487, BD-1, R.7. The 1828/7
Capped Bust Left half eagle is a legendary rarity in the U.S. gold
series, with scarcely a half dozen examples known. Off the market
for more than 12 years, the coin offered here is the finest-known
example of this remarkable issue. The 1828/7 was missing from such
great collections as Garrett, Norweb, and Pittman, and some of the
greatest coin dealers in history, including B. Max Mehl and Abe
Kosoff, never had the chance to catalog this coin. Heritage is
excited to offer a specimen of the 1828/7 for the first time in the
Harvey B. Jacobson, Jr. Collection.
Finest of Five or Six Examples Known
Ex: Byron Reed/Suros
Mint records indicate 28,029 half eagles were produced in 1828, but the great majority of that mintage was melted almost as soon as it was issued because the intrinsic value of the coins was greater than their face value. When Joseph Mickley published his monograph Dates of United States Coins and Their Degrees of Rarity in 1858, the 1828 half eagle was one of the three dates from the 1820s that he designated as rare (the 1822 and 1824 were the others). Numismatic legend has Mickley beginning his collecting activities before 1820, one of the earliest American collectors in the field, so he probably purchased coins of that period directly from the Mint or his bank shortly after they were issued. That he had trouble locating an 1828 half eagle, despite his considerable connections and lack of contemporary competition, speaks volumes about the rarity of the date in the early 19th century.
The elusive nature of the 1828 half eagle is compounded by the fact that there are four different die varieties known for the date, all of them quite rare in their own right. This coin represents the very rare BD-1 variety, distinguished by the overdate and the small period after D in the denomination. John Dannreuther estimates the BD-1 variety accounted for approximately 4,000-8,000 pieces of the reported mintage, with only 3-5 examples surviving today in all grades. The other overdate variety, BD-2, is known by only a single specimen. The two overdate varieties were not recognized as different dies until recent times, when Andrew W. Pollock III noticed the large period after the D on the BD-2 coin. Dannreuther's evaluation of this issue's rarity is supported by population data from the leading grading services. Currently, NGC has certified only this specimen of the BD-1 in MS64, with just two more examples in MS63, while PCGS has graded a single specimen in MS63 (11/11). It is likely that one of these MS63 certification events is a duplicate submission, as we can account for only two coins in this grade in our roster below. There is also an example of the BD-1 in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian that Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth evaluate as AU58. The single BD-2 coin has been graded AU55 by PCGS (11/11). Two of the four (or five) BD-1 specimens are impounded in institutional holdings, leaving only two (or three) examples in collector's hands, less than (or equal to) the number of 1913 Liberty Head nickels available for collecting purposes.
Tracing the history of the 1828/7 half eagle in the 19th century is extremely difficult because few catalogers took note of the overdate when describing the coins and plated appearances are virtually nonexistent. Thus, while several early appearances of the 1828 half eagle are noted in the literature, it is impossible to determine which variety was being cited in the majority of cases. Fortunately, the history of this coin is absolutely clear back to the late 19th century, as it was purchased by Byron Reed, who donated his collection to the City of Omaha after his death in 1891. Reed's collection was carefully preserved for many years by the Omaha City Library, and much of it still remains in the Durham Western Heritage Museum. His 1828/7 half eagle was deaccessioned and sold, along with many other items, in a memorable auction conducted by the firms of Christie's and Spink America in 1996.
Dr Juan XII Suros later purchased this coin as part of his landmark collection of overdate coins, reportedly paying $300,000 for this piece by private treaty. Our present consignor acquired the coin after the Superior Stamp & Coin auction of the Suros collection in February 1999.
The present coin is an attractive Choice example of this extremely rare issue. As expected with such a rare coin, the 1828/7 BD-1 half eagle is known in a single die state, Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/c. The obverse die was also used to strike the unique specimen of the 1828/7 BD-2 variety, and this was the third, and last, use of the reverse die. The design elements of this coin are sharply detailed in most areas, as the stars show most of their radial lines and Liberty's hair displays crisp definition. A touch of softness can be seen on the eagle's left (facing) wing and claws, but most of the central detail is strongly impressed. The surfaces are brightly lustrous, with traces of prooflike reflectivity in selected areas. Rich greenish-gold color enhances the outstanding visual appeal. This coin combines extreme rarity, exceptional eye appeal, and the highest available technical quality. The finest of only two (or three) specimens in private hands, it may be another decade before this specimen becomes available again.
The following roster was prepared from notes supplied by well-respected researchers Saul Teichman and Wayne Burt.
Roster of 1828/7 BD-1 Examples.
1. MS64 NGC. Byron Reed; Omaha City Library/Durham Western Heritage Museum; Byron Reed Collection (Christie's/Spink America, 10/1996), lot 117; Dr. Juan XII Suros Collection (Superior, 2/1999), lot 247; the present coin.
2. MS63 NGC. Possibly George Seavey; Lorin G. Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 978; H.P. Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 216; John Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis Eliasberg; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 385; possibly Pogue Collection.
3. MS63 PCGS. Waldo Newcomer; Col. E.H.R. Green; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 244; Dr. Clifford Smith Collection (Stack's, 5/1955), lot 1690; 1976 ANA Auction (Stack's, 8/1976), lot 2944; Naftzger-Paramount fixed price list; Auction '82 (Paramount, 8/1982), lot 1932; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Research Foundation.
4. AU58 Uncertified. Mathew Stickney Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1907), lot 670; Virgil Brand, 311th Sale (Morgenthau, 10/1933), lot 222; possibly Louis Eliasberg; H.R. Lee Collection (Stack's, 10/1947), lot 1247; Clifford T. Weihman, Josiah K. Lilly, Smithsonian Institution.
Pedigree of the 1828/7 BD-2 Example.
A. AU55 PCGS. Col. James W. Flanagan, purchased from Stack's in January 1940 for $845; Col. James W. Flanagan Collection (Stack's, 3/1944), lot 1103; J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 349; Dupont Collection; Farish Baldenhofer Collection (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 1245; Metropolitan New York Convention (Stack's, 5/1958), lot 1235; Samuel W. Wolfson Collection (Stack's, 10/1962), lot 371; John Murrell; Auction '80 (Paramount, 8/1980), lot 927; Auction '88 (Akers, 7/1988), lot 903; Brooks Collection (Bowers and Merena, 6/1989), lot 377; Michael Keston Collection (Superior, 1/1996), lot 118; Dr. Richard Ariagno Collection (Ira & Larry Goldberg, 5/1999), lot 719.
Other Appearances (not attributed by variety):
B. Unc. Sale 366 (J.C. Morgenthau, 6/1936), lot 65.
C. Unc. Prooflike. Sale 37 (Stack's, 12/1939), lot 100. Probably the same as A above.
D. Unc. Rubbing. William S. Hunt Collection (Morgenthau, 10/1940), lot 30.
Note: The Col. Green plate was used as a stock photo in the Flanagan, Bell, and H.R. Lee catalogs, and the plates for the 1828/7 and 1828 are reversed in the Flanagan sale, making plate matching during this era problematic. Col. Green is reported to have owned a second example of the 1828/7 half eagle, but if so, his place in the pedigree is uncertain.
From The Harvey B. Jacobson, Jr. Collection.(Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 25R7, PCGS# 8138)
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