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    1834 Plain 4 Classic Half Eagle, MS65+
    HM-8, Script 8, Late Die State
    Commanding Type Coin

    1834 $5 Plain 4, HM-8, R.4, MS65+ NGC. Classic Head half eagle coinage began in August 1834, and production exceeded 650,000 pieces before the end of the year. The design change commenced with a reduction in weight of 0.39 grams for the denomination, as well as a reduction in gold fineness from 0.9167 to 0.900 fine. The result was a decrease in melt value to a level at or below the face value of the coin. While earlier gold issues were heavily melted for their heavy gold content, Classic Head half eagles could circulate freely, and the Mint set about producing significant quantities of the new coinage.

    In the new reference work United States Classic Gold Coins of 1834-1839, Daryl Haynor identifies nine die varieties of the 1834 Classic Head half eagle, including eight Plain 4 marriages and a single Crosslet 4. HM-8 is distinctive for a prominent vertical die crack that descends through Liberty's eye to her chin. The obverse die was previously employed in two other die pairings, but the "Scarface die crack," as Haynor dubs it, only appears in this late, final state. Another die crack extends upward from the dentils between the date and star 13 into Liberty's hair toward the Y in LIBERTY. Haynor writes, "While this crack is very thin on almost all coins, it eventually widened and became very noticeable in the field below Liberty's hair." The present coin is indeed representative of the late stage of that crack.

    Before the recent completion of extensive die and die state research, Classic Head gold was widely collected by date and type, and occasionally by Guide Book variety. The 1834 half eagle is divided into two Guide Book listings: Plain 4 and Crosslet 4. The Plain 4 variant, represented by HM-8, is by far the most plentiful, and it is this issue that is typically encountered in type collectors' cabinets and date sets. Nonetheless, most such collections contain specimens that grade no finer than MS64, since Gem examples are conditionally rare. In fact, the Classic Head type as a whole is a major rarity in Gem condition, individual dates aside. We have previously handled a Gem or finer example of the 1834 Classic Head five on only 15 occasions, including duplicate appearances of some coins, and just a few of those appearances occurred in recent years.

    This incredible specimen displays radiant peach-gold mint luster and largely untouched surfaces. The semireflective fields reveal a few microscopic marks, but those are the only indications of handling on this piece. The hair curls on Liberty's temple and the left edge of the reverse shield show the usual strike weakness, reminding the viewer that this piece is not a proof, but in fact an exceptional business strike, the likes of which may not appear at auction again for years. Census: 9 in 65 (1 in 65+, 1 in 65 ), 0 finer (8/20).

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# E2KE, Variety PCGS# 765198, Base PCGS# 8171)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 89.92% Gold, 10.08% Copper

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2020
    18th-20th Friday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 348

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

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