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1831 Half Eagle, Small 5D, BD-1, MS61
High R.6, 14 to 18 Surviving
Pedigreed to Harold P. Newlin and T. Harrison Garrett

1831 $5 MS61 NGC. BD-1, High R.6. Ex: Garrett Collection. Small 5D. All of the so-called Reduced Diameter half eagles from the short-lived William Kneass design of 1829 through 1834 are rare to exceedingly rare. The design evolved from John Reich's Capped Bust Left type, which was one of his first major redesigns upon joining the Philadelphia Mint in 1807. Liberty's head was again modified in 1813, with dies engraved by John Reich that show his usual notched star signature on star 13. Reich left the Mint in 1817, after a decade of service assistant engraver without a pay raise. The old reliable Mint chief engraver, Robert Scot. copied Reich's obverse device punch of Liberty -- but the result was less artfully rendered. Liberty's cap shows more wrinkling, and her hair is coarser. The Scot design continued in use until 1829 when Kneass again altered the central device, giving Liberty a more finished, graceful appearance.

The half eagles of 1831 appear in two different reverse varieties sharing a common obverse, the BD-1 Small 5D (or Small D) and the BD-2 Large 5D. Both are very rare, the Small 5D considerably more so; John Dannreuther estimates that 14 to 18 examples survive of the BD-1, compared to 22 to 30 of the BD-2. As early as the Garrett Collection offering of 1979, the Bowers and Merena cataloger surmised that "fewer than two dozen examples" were believed to exist, and the vast majority of both varieties, BD-1 and BD-2, are in circulated grades rather than Mint State. This pleasing Mint State example of the rarer BD-1 offers faint greenish tints over brilliant yellow-gold surfaces. The fields are lightly reflective. A few faint hairlines and other tiny abrasions keep this from an even higher grade. The pedigree of this coin stretches back more than 130 years to such illustrious numismatists as T. Harrison Garrett and, before him, Harold P. Newlin, author of the 1883 A Classification of the Early Half-Dimes of the United States, the first reference to the series. Newlin, a Philadelphia attorney, acquired the Col. Adams gold coin collection and is known to have sold many gold coins privately to T. Harrison Garrett.

This incredibly rare early gold issue, extremely attractive in its own right and coupled with an impeccable pedigree, should pique the interest of many specialists of different persuasions, from half dimes to half eagles, as well as those who simply love truly rare and original coins. For both varieties, NGC has seen three MS61 pieces with three finer, presumably most of them the more-available BD-2 Large 5D variety (11/13).
Ex: Harold P. Newlin; T. Harrison Garrett, acquired April 28, 1883; Garrett Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979), lot 474; purchased from Abner Kreisberg Corporation on January 18, 1980 for $19,500; Beverly Hills Collection /Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/2005), lot 7789.
From the collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 25RD, PCGS# 8153)

View all of [The collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2014
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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