Third Finest Known 1854-D Half Eagle, A Fabulous MS64 Specimen1854-D $5 MS64 PCGS. Large mintmark. Variety 30-T (per Doug Winter's second edition and revised attribution system). The 1 in the date is close to the truncation; reverse of 1853. This is one of five varieties known. The 1854-D is the second most available Dahlonega half eagle in higher grades, trailing only the 1853-D. There are an estimated 225-250 pieces known in all grades with around a dozen in Uncirculated. The finest known is unquestionably the Duke's Creek coin (Ex: Milas, Montgomery, and Scanlon Collections) that has been graded MS65 by PCGS. Many experts feel that it is one of the two finest known Dahlonega half eagles of any date. The Green Pond coin is the second finest graded by PCGS and is the only piece ever certified as MS64 by this service.
The strike on this coin is similar to that seen on the Green Pond 1853-D half eagle. For the date, the detail is excellent with the borders lacking the beveled appearance seen on many 1854-D half eagles. The obverse is very sharp except for the curl below the ear of Liberty. The denticles are about 50% full while the stars show nearly complete radial lines. The reverse is exceptionally bold in the center. The border is a bit weak from 8:00 to 11:00. The mintmark is very sharp which is an important factor on this date as a number of higher grade coins have weak mintmarks.
A few light hairlines (not from cleaning) can be seen on the obverse and reverse and there is a small contact mark on the throat that is so well blended into the coloration that it is difficult to see. Some light, removable haze rests on both sides but is not easily visible. The luster is very frosty and is more suggestive of a Dahlonega half eagle from the mid-1840s than the mid-1850s. Despite the fact that this is a somewhat available coin in higher grades, it is still extremely difficult to locate an 1854-D half eagle with acceptable luster.
Both sides show medium orange-gold color that is attractive. The range of colors seen on this date varies from orange-gold to deep green-gold. This is an extremely well struck coin that does not show the typical soft, "mushy" appearance that beleaguers this date. Here is another wonderful possibility for the collector seeking a solitary ultra-high grade Dahlonega half eagle for a type set.
In our January 2003 auction, we sold an NGC MS65 as lot 4785 for $62,100. The finest known 1854-D half eagle, graded MS65, sold for $71,500 in Stack's May 1995 Ed Milas Collection auction. Obtained via private treaty from Heritage Rare Coin Galleries in November 1998; earlier Ex: Mark Chrans; Ron Gillio Mail Bid Sale/1998 ANA. This is the plate coin in the second edition of Doug Winter's "Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861." It is listed in the current Condition Census as the third finest known 1854-D half eagle.(#8258) (NGC ID# 25UK, PCGS# 8258)
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