Magnificent Gem Uncirculated 1845-D Half Eagle: The Famous Bass/Norweb Example1845-D $5 MS65 PCGS. Variety 12-I. (per Doug Winter's second edition and revised attribution system). The date is far to the left. This is the more common of the two varieties known.
RARITY INFORMATION: The 1845-D is among the most available Dahlonega half eagles. There are 225-250 pieces known with 45-50 in AU and another 10-12 in Uncirculated. The present example is far and away the finest known with the next best being a group of three that have been graded MS63 by PCGS.
Just how rare is a Dahlonega half eagle graded MS65 by PCGS? As of November 2003, this service had only graded 16 No Motto half eagles of all dates and mints in this grade with five better (these numbers can be just about cut in half if the common 1861 is removed). Of these, only four were struck at the Dahlonega mint. This "Fab Four" includes an 1841-D, 1846-D/D, the 1854-D in the Duke's Creek Collection, and the 1845-D in the Green Pond Collection. Given the fact that the other three coins are likely off the market for many years to come, this is the only PCGS graded MS65 Dahlonega half eagle that is available to collectors. Should the "registry mania" that is currently surging through the market for 20th century coins ever be carried over to the branch mint gold series, the level of demand for a coin such as this Gem 1845-D half eagle would be incredible. The serious collector or savvy speculator should contemplate this fact as he figures a bid on this extremely important piece.
STRIKE: This is probably the best struck example of this date that we have seen. Many 1845-D half eagles show noticeable weakness on the stars and the obverse border. This piece is fully brought up on both sides with the exception of the eagle's right (facing) talon which shows some weakness.
SURFACES: Struck from lightly clashed dies with a number of interesting clashmarks on the obverse close to the bust and in both fields. There are three small marks in the field to the left of Liberty's neck and a few tiny reverse marks over the eagle's head. The surfaces are exceptional, as one might expect from a Dahlonega half eagle that has been graded this high by PCGS.
LUSTER: The luster is exceptional with a vibrant, frosty appearance on both sides. It is quite astonishing that this coin could have existed so well preserved and one has to wonder how it remained essentially untouched in its nearly 160-year history.
COLORATION: The obverse has a medium orange-gold center that is framed by splashes of lovely rich orange-gold color at the border. The reverse is similar with glorious burnt-orange hues present. This color is original and very attractive.
EYE APPEAL: It would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful Dahlonega gold coin. This piece is truly spectacular with a sharp strike, glowing luster, gorgeous color, and choice surfaces. Harry Bass, who was not exactly lacking when this coin came to his attention, liked this coin enough to pay a record price for it at the 1987 Norweb I Sale, and the owner of the Green Pond Collection regards it as a highlight of his Dahlonega set.
COMPARABLES: This is the only 1845-D half eagle known graded MS65 and there are no comparable sales. It is interesting to note that the $66,000 that this coin realized in the 1987 Norweb I Auction was a record price for a Dahlonega half eagle that stood for nearly a decade.
PEDIGREE: Purchased from Kevin Lipton by Doug Winter and Heritage Rare Coin Galleries in 2003. Earlier Ex: Dwight Manley; Harry Bass Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/99), lot 948 ($57,500); Mike Brownlee; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/87), lot 817, where it brought an astonishing $66,000; New Netherlands Coin Company (7/5/56). (#8224) (Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 25TC, PCGS# 8224)
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