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Underrated 1831 Half Eagle, Near-Mint State
Rare BD-2 Large Denomination Variety

1831 $5 AU58 NGC. Breen-6493, BD-2, R.6. If one held a contest to determine the most underrated U.S. coin, the 1831 half eagle, regardless of variety, would be a solid contender. The Capped Head Left series of half eagles is so challenging that few numismatists have the ability to collect the issue by date, let alone by die marriage. The resulting lack of demand has helped this date remain amazingly undervalued.
Of the two known varieties combined, between 36 and 48 examples are believed extant in all grades. The current coin is BD-2, or the Large Denomination variety. The Bass-Dannreuther reference on early gold (2006) documents between 22 and 30 known specimens of BD-2, compared to only 14 to 18 survivors of BD-1, the Small Denomination type. Interestingly, in the past 15 years BD-2--although supposedly the more available of the two known varieties--has crossed the auction block at Heritage twice prior to the current offering, out of a total of eight 1831 five dollar appearances. It is also a fact that both examples of this issue in the Smithsonian Institution are of the BD-1 variety and Harry W. Bass, Jr. only owned one of each variety. As a result, some specialists feel that BD-2 is actually the scarcer of the two die marriages, whereas others fell they are of equal rarity. The rest of the coin-collecting world would not give a second thought to the variety since less that 50 1831 fives remain in all grades, and the offering of any example is reason to celebrate.
The current coin is well preserved, as most 1831 half eagles are. The fields are bright and semireflective with rich yellow-gold color throughout. Numerous small to medium-sized abrasions are scattered over each side, but the only one worthy of mention is parallel to the jawline of Liberty.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 25RD, PCGS# 8153)

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Auction Dates
Jul-Aug, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 4
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Page Views: 430

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