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Final Issue 1929 Indian Half Eagle, MS641929 $5 MS64 PCGS. With a substantial mintage of 662,000 pieces, one would not expect the 1929 half eagle to be a scarce coin. Mintage notwithstanding, the issue is decidedly scarce today, especially in circulated grades. In United States Gold Coins an Analysis of Auction Records, David Akers made the following observations: "The 1929 is a rare date, the rarest in the Indian Head Half Eagle series from the standpoint of total number of specimens available. However, since almost all known specimens are AU or uncirculated, many of them very choice, the 1929 is not nearly as difficult to obtain in mint state as most of the mintmarked dates of the series. I would estimate that several hundred specimens exist and the majority of them are fairly choice." Recent population data from third-party grading services seems to support Akers' observations, when adjusted for resubmissions. NGC has recorded 220 submission events, with 73 coins certified in MS64 grade (12/08). Notably, only seven coins were graded finer, outlining the difficulty of improving on the present coin.
The reason for the scarcity of this date is undoubtedly the gold recall of the 1930s. In 1929, half eagles had not been minted for 13 years, and the denomination was never produced afterward. Clearly, the coins saw no demand from the general public, and most examples remained in Treasury vaults or banks. When Roosevelt issued his Presidential Order to recall all non-numismatic gold coins, the great majority of 1929 half eagles were turned in to be melted.
The rarity of the 1929 half eagle was not recognized until an example appeared in the Flanagan Collection (Stack's, 3/1944), lot 1195. The cataloger described the coin as, "1929 Last year of issue, brilliant uncirculated, very rare. (75.00)." When this lot was called, a spirited bidding war ensued. Instead of the estimated $75, the lot closed at $225, an extremely large sum at the time. The reputation of the 1929 half eagle as a rare and desirable coin was established, and has not subsided to this day. An especially attractive PCGS-graded MS65 specimen recently sold for $51,750.
The secret of this issue's predominance in high grade is due to a hoard of original Mint rolls that were distributed in the decades after the Flanagan sale. Walter Breen reports knowing of at least four rolls of high grade examples that were carefully distributed over many years, to avoid flooding the market. Similar hoards are extremely unlikely to exist today.
This is a lovely, high-end example that is sharply defined and shows rich reddish-tinged mint luster. A few small abrasions on each side keep it from an MS65 grade.
From The Grand Lake Collection.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 28E2, PCGS# 8533)
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