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1829 Small Date Half Eagle, BD-2, MS61
1829 $5 Small Date MS61 PCGS. CAC. Breen-6490, BD-2, R.7.
The 1829 half eagle has been a celebrated rarity in the American
gold series since the early days of the hobby. Because of the
introduction of the close collar mechanism in 1829, two varieties
of the date are known. The older type, struck with an open collar,
is known as the Large Date. The coin offered here represents the
close collar variety, naturally referred to as the Small Date. Both
types are very rare, and a diligent search of auction records
reveals that it has been 12 years since an example of either type
was offered at public auction. Heritage is privileged to offer an
example of both types of the 1829 half eagle in the Harvey B.
Jacobson, Jr. Collection, and an example of the scarce 1829 quarter
eagle elsewhere in this catalog. Since eagles were not struck in
1829, this constitutes a complete set of the gold issues of that
year. We know of only eight or nine occasions when a complete set
of 1829 gold coins has been included in the same offering, and only
three times in the last 50 years (Garrett, Eliasberg, and Harry
Classic Gold Rarity, Prooflike Surfaces
Ex: Harry Bass
Although there was an example in the Mint Cabinet, and Matthew Stickney seems to have acquired his specimen at an early date, through a private transaction, the Small Date coins were slow to appear on the numismatic market. This caused 19th century catalogers to believe they were even rarer than the Large Date type. Numismatists began to differentiate between the two types by June of 1873, when the first example of the Small Date to appear at auction was featured in lot 491 of the Seavey Descriptive Catalog by William Strobridge. This auction never actually took place, because Lorin G. Parmelee purchased the entire collection intact before the date of the sale. In his Sixty-Ninth Sale of June 1883, John W. Haseltine described the coin in lot 364 as:
"1829 New type. This piece is a size smaller than the last described. The stars, date, and lettering on reverse being also smaller. I do not know that collectors are generally aware of its existence, as I believe that never but one has made its appearance in a sale. Strictly uncirculated and of the highest rarity and importance, showing, as it does, the beginning of the new type."
Coin dealer John Walter Scott called the 1829 Small Date "The the third in order of rarity in the Half Eagles, following 1822 and 1815." This perception of the relative rarity of the two types persisted far into the 20th century, although more examples of the Small Date type continued to appear, finally overtaking the Large Date in terms of total examples known. Present-day collectors believe there are at least 9 surviving examples of the Small Date variety, with seven Large Date specimens accounted for. A roster of Small Date coins appears below, and the Large Dates are listed in the description of that coin.
The present coin traces its history to the famous Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection. Bass was a thoughtful student of the early half eagle series, and his work is the basis of much of what we know today about die states and emission sequences. As might be expected with such a rare coin, the 1829 Small Date half eagle is known in a single die state. The reverse die was used again on the BD-1 variety of the 1830 half eagle, but the 1829 Small Date, BD-2 variety was the first and only use of the obverse die.
This coin is a delightful Mint State example, with fully prooflike reflective fields and softly frosted devices that provide a slight cameo effect. The design elements are sharply detailed throughout, and the pleasing yellow-gold surfaces show only minor contact marks. A few light scratches in the left obverse field are noted for pedigree purposes. This lot represents an incredibly important opportunity for the early gold specialist, combining outstanding visual appeal and Mint State technical quality on a coin of surpassing rarity and historical interest.
Roster of 1829 Small Date Half Eagles (expanded from earlier work by Saul Teichman, Wayne Burt, and Walter Breen).
1. PR66 Deep Cameo. National Numismatic Collection; Smithsonian Institution.
2. PR64. George Seavey; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 491; Lorin G. Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 6/1890), lot 989; Lyman H. Low; James Ten Eyck (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 194; Waldo C. Newcomer; Col. E.H.R. Green; King Farouk (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 245; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 779; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Bass Core Collection.
3. Mint State, Prooflike. Thomas Cleneay (Chapman Brothers, 12/1890), lot 574; Byron Reed Collection; Omaha City Library/Western Heritage Museum (Spink America/Christies, 10/1996), lot 118. In the Spink/Christies catalog, the cataloger stated that Byron Reed acquired this coin from the Emery, Taylor, and Loomis Collection (W.E. Woodward, 3/1880). However, the plate from the Cleneay catalog is an exact match for this specimen.
4. MS61. Rev. Foster Ely (Scott Stamp & Coin Co., 11/1888), lot 43; Harlan Page Smith Collection (Chapman Brothers, 5/1906), lot 219; W.F. Dunham Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1941), lot 2102; unknown intermediaries; Kagin's (11/1974), lot 1618; Julian Leidman (8/1978); Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999), lot 821; the present coin.
5. AU55. Phineas Adams; William J. Jenks; Sixty-Ninth Sale (John W. Haseltine, 6/1883), lot 364; Harold P. Newlin (privately, 10/31/1884); T. Harrison Garrett; Robert Garrett; John Work Garrett; The Johns Hopkins University (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979), lot 472; Stanley Kesselman; Gore and Long Collections (Bowers and Merena, 1/1990), lot 570.
6. AU50. Col. E.H.R. Green; J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 11/1944), lot 351; Clifford Tobias Weihman; Josiah K. Lilly, Jr. Collection; Smithsonian Institution. Possibly earlier from William Woodin (exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition); Waldo Newcomer.
7. AU. Matthew Adams Stickney (Henry Chapman, 6/1907), lot 671; Virgil Brand, per the Brand Journals; Thomas Melish Collection (Abe Kosoff, 4/1956), lot 1953; 1963 FUN (Federal Brand Enterprises, 1/1963), lot 4187, the cataloger of this sale believed the coin in this lot was from the Dunham Collection, but the plate matches the Stickney/Melish plates; NASC Convention (RARCOA, 2/1972), lot 871; Kingswood Coin Auctions (2/1997), lot 119. Stickney died in 1894, but his collection was held intact for a number of years, and was sold in 1907 for the benefit of his daughters. It is likely that Stickney acquired this coin long before his death, possibly closer to the time of issue.
8. AU. 1967 Grand Central Sale (Paramount, 11/1967), lot 806; Superior (9/1970), lot 574; Davies-Niewoehner Sale (Paramount, 2/1975), lot 562; Greater New York Convention (Paramount, 5/1976), lot 1079.
9. XF45. A.L. Schuyler Collection (Ben Green, 3/1906), lot 443; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 388; Auction '88 (David Akers, 7/1988), lot 905; Stack's (10/1989), lot 1484.
A. Emery, Taylor & Loomis Collection (Woodward, 3/1880), lot 1013. Mistakenly attributed to Byron Reed (see comments under number 3 above).
B. George H. Earle (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2397. This piece is plated in the Earle catalog, but no pedigree has been established. Possibly the same as number 6 above.
C. Col. Flanagan Collection (Stack's, 3/1944), lot 1105. The same plate was used for the description in the J.F. Bell sale, so this may be an earlier appearance of the coin in number 6 above. However, many firms, including Stack's, used stock photos in the 1940s, and a matching plate in several catalogs is no guarantee that the same coin was offered.
D. Adolphe Menjou Sale (Numismatic Gallery, 6/1950), lot 1473. Plated in the Menjou catalog, but no pedigree has been established. Possibly the same as number 7 above.
E. A specimen reported stolen from Waldo Newcomer in the November 1913 edition of The Numismatist. The description does not specify if the coin was a Small Date or a Large Date.
F. An example advertised by Charles H. Fisher in the May 1934 issue of The Numismatist, possibly offered in the 1934 ANA Auction.
G. Texas Sale (Hollinbeck Coin Company, 12/1951), lot 1829. Possibly a reappearance of the coin in C above.
H. A coin reported stolen from the Willis H. duPont Collection in the January 1968 issue of The Numismatist.
From The Harvey B. Jacobson, Jr. Collection.(Registry values: P9) (NGC ID# BFYB, PCGS# 8151)
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