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    Important and Impressive 1802 Half Dime

    1802 H10C VF30 PCGS. V-1, LM-1, R.5. There are many rare dates in the early U.S. series of gold, silver, and copper coins. The 1802 half dime ranks high among these. Although the estimated population is in the range of 35 to 50 coins, these pieces appear for sale infrequently. When one is acquired by a collector, it is always a long-term acquisition. Over many years and several hundred thousand auction lots offered by Heritage, this is only the ninth offering of an 1802 half dime. We handle one example of this date for every 100,000 auction lots to appear in our sales. In Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837, Russ Logan and John McCloskey commented: "The 1802 half dime has not only been recognized as the key date in the early half dime series for well over a century, but it is often described as one of the classic rarities of U.S. numismatics." It is also considered to be among the 100 greatest U.S. coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth. The finest known examples of this date grade in the AU range, thus this VF30 grade coin is most desirable.
    In all numismatic auctions, held by many different firms, this date appears for sale about once per year. Garrett and Guth commented: "On average, collectors can expect to see but one 1802 half dime appear at auction in any given year. This means that the collector seeking to acquire one of these rarities must be patient, yet ready to act quickly, or wait a year for another one!"
    Fortunately for collectors, authentication is relatively easy as all examples are from a single die pair with a distinctive obverse. It would be virtually impossible to successfully alter any other date in the series. The obverse has a large 8 and a high 2, leaning left. The reverse die was used in 1801, 1802, and 1803. A leaf joins the center of C and another has its tip under the right upright of I. No other Heraldic Eagle half dime reverse has this combination of leaf positions.
    This is a pleasing example with excellent surfaces. Both sides have deep brown-gray surfaces with traces of gunmetal-blue color, and slightly lighter silver color on the reverse. Like every known example, this piece has sharp central obverse and reverse details, weakness along the left obverse and reverse borders, and an area of weakness through the clouds below ES and the upper row of stars, exactly opposite Liberty's bust from the obverse design. Very slight surface roughness can be seen through the stars at the left side of the obverse, and a few old hairlines are evident on both sides, but these have now toned over and are virtually undetectable.
    The present opportunity to acquire a pleasing mid-grade example of this date should not be considered lightly. The advanced collector should consider the experience of Jules Reiver, who felt he could acquire an example at any time, and never accomplished the goal during his lifetime. This was one of only a few early U.S. die varieties in the silver series that he never owned. Be prepared to acquire this coin, and gain a badge of distinction among collectors of early federal coinage.(Registry values: P10) (NGC ID# 2328, PCGS# 4268)

    Weight: 1.35 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2006
    13th-14th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,067

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Numismatic Background and Census of 1802 Half Dimes: A Classic American Rarity
    This 64-page book cites mintage and rarity estimates by prominent numismatists and documents the currently known 1802 half dime appearances. Each of the 32 documented examples includes an enlarged obverse/reverse photograph, the author's assigned grade, the provenance of each coin, auction prices realized or dealer fixed asking price, and a unique serial number for each specimen that will facilitate retrieval for research, cataloging, or price-information purposes. Reserve your copy of this remarkable volume for just $29.95 today.
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