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    Gorgeous MS66 1837 Five Dollar

    1837 $5 MS66 NGC. Large Date, Large 5, Breen-6512, McCloskey 2-B, R.3. One of only three die marriages known for this date. The Large Date obverse is best identified by its Block 8 style, since the Small Date variety has a Script 8. There is actually little difference in size between Breen's Large 5 and Small 5 reverses. However, the McCloskey "B" reverse can be identified by its second S in STATES, which appears lower than the preceding letters since it was entered further from the rim.
    All three die marriages are collectible, although all are scarce, since the 1837 has the lowest mintage for any Philadelphia issue of the type. Presumably, the historically high mintages from 1834 to 1836 met the economic demand for gold coins during an era when private bank notes were more common in circulation.
    When encountered, Classic half eagles typically grade VF to AU. Equivalent in value to today's high denomination note, the usual 1837 five dollar piece went from hand to hand slowly, in contrast to a large cent that was spent on everyday purchases. As the largest gold denomination of its day, the 1837 half eagle was a store of value, and was set aside.
    But unlike its counterparts from late in the 19th century, such pieces were owned by individuals instead of banks. Eventually, banks held their reserves in the form of gold coins, which explains why late-date Liberty half eagles are comparatively plentiful in Mint State. In the 1830s, however, bank reserves consisted mainly of Capped Bust halves. An 1837 half eagle would be held for a time, then spent on farming equipment or a similar major purchase. Changing hands a few times year, many remained in AU condition, or in lower Mint State grades with slightly impaired field luster. Premium Gems are virtually unheard of, however, since the purchasing power of a half eagle could improve one's life, and such practical considerations triumphed over any desire to keep a pristine example as a keepsake. No one seriously collected gold coins until after the Civil War, when increased numismatic knowledge and a growing concentration of wealth made such an adventure possible.
    The total mintage of Classic half eagles exceeded 2 million pieces. Eventually, most of the mintage was exported overseas, since foreign traders accepted gold but not paper money. The coins were then melted, and transformed into more familiar local types. At most, 2% of the original type mintage, or 40,000 pieces, has survived in any condition. Those are distributed among the four years of the type, and many are cleaned, damaged, or otherwise uncertifiable. The vast majority exhibit wear.
    At the MS66 level, Classic half eagles are nearly unheard of. NGC has certified just three examples, two 1834 Plain 4 pieces and the present 1837. PCGS has encapsulated four examples, one each of the 1834 Plain 4 and 1838 plus two 1837 half eagles. With possible duplication, the combined NGC and PCGS data consists of seven MS66 pieces, with none finer, for the entire type. Just three of those are 1837 half eagles.
    The only prior auction appearance of an MS66 1837 was in Part II of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, in October 1999. That coin is different from the present piece, which can be identified by a small, inconspicuous mark beneath the second S in STATES. This Premium Gem has complete, blazing luster, and is unusually well struck, particularly on the curls near the ear and on the left shield border, which are often incompletely brought up for the type. More than eight years have passed since the arrival of an MS66 1837 at auction, and another opportunity to acquire such a high grade example may not arrive for many additional years.
    From The Southwest Collection.(Registry values: P1)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 25RZ, PCGS# 8175)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    View all of [The Southwest Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,691

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    The marketing was exceptional from the photos to the ads in Civil War Times and North South Trader for the cross over people!!! I have had many emails from my Civil War collecting fraternity that saw these and I saw them at the national show in Nashville/Franklin in early December.
    Dave Noble,
    Rockwall, TX
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