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Elusive 1833 BD-1 Large Date Half Eagle, MS61

1833 $5 Large Date MS61 PCGS. Breen-6498, BD-1, High R.5. The actual size of the digits in the Small Date and Large Date variants is just barely distinguishable, but the style of the number punches is distinctly different. The 3s on the Large Date have pronounced knobs and the 8 is more blocklike rather than the italic (or belted) style seen on the Small Date.
An article by Paul Gilkes in the June 26, 2000 issue of Coin World deals directly with the rarity of the 1829 half eagle, but the explanation applies just as effectively to the 1833:

"The main reason the 1829 Capped Head, Large Planchet half eagle is so difficult to obtain is that it and many of its predecessors fell victim to the great melts, a byproduct of the flood of Mexican and Peruvian silver. The influx of silver on the world market compared to gold supplies lowered the silver price, but appeared as an unstoppable increase in the value of gold reckoned in Mexican dollars. The result was widespread hoarding and melting of older gold coins when their bullion value exceeded their face value by enough to warrant a profit over the cost of melting. Tens of thousands of half eagles and other gold denominations of recent vintage were melted soon after their production and reclaimed ..."

As a result, few people in the 1820s and 1830s ever saw or handled a U.S. quarter eagle or half eagle. The few that did survive are often encountered in relatively high grades. For the 1833, the average grade is 57.6. This coin is noticeably finer at the MS61 level. It would, in fact, grade higher but there is a long, vertical abrasion on the shield on the reverse, and we are at a loss to explain its origin. A bit softly struck on the obverse stars and the left portion of the eagle's wing, the surfaces otherwise are bright and the fields semireflective. Even, light reddish-yellow color is seen over each side of this rarely seen Capped Head issue. Population: 3 in 61, 9 finer (2/09).(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# BFYJ, PCGS# 8157)

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Auction Dates
March, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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