1796/5 BD-1 Half Eagle, AU53
1796/5 $5 Small Eagle AU53 PCGS. Breen-6418, BD-1, High R.4.
Half eagles were the first gold coins minted by the United States,
beginning at the end of July 1795. Philadelphia Mint records show a
total production of 8,707 half eagles in 1795 and 6,196 in 1796,
but most of the latter were actually dated 1795. Current rarity
ratings indicate that about 600 1795 Small Eagle half eagles and
100 1796 half eagles survive in all grades.
Important Early Gold Rarity
The current population suggests a mintage of about 12,800 half eagles dated 1795 and 2,100 dated 1796. An alternative is examination of auction offerings. Our Permanent Auction Archives show a total of 198 offerings of 1795 Small Eagle pieces and 17 appearances of 1796 half eagles. That data suggests an original mintage of 13,700 pieces dated 1795 and just 1,200 dated 1796. The predicted estimates fall closely in line with John Dannreuther's estimate of "1,057 to 2,000" coins. The 17 past auction appearances of 1796 half eagles in all Heritage auctions since 1993 include one MS61, four AU58, one AU55, three AU53, and two XF45 coins.
The limited die states recorded for all 1796 half eagles provide another clue to the small mintage of coins bearing the 1796 date. A single die marriage is known, with a few examples having a short die crack at the bottom obverse.
The present specimen is different from any of those we have offered in the past. Both sides have light yellow surfaces with splashes of orange toning near the borders. Small green spots at the upper reverse appear to be attached to the surface of the coin rather than imbedded in the surface. Both sides show trivial marks and minor hairlines. Two tiny nicks in the right obverse field should prove useful for provenance hunters. Population: 6 in 53, 13 finer (2/11).(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 7KNJ, PCGS# 8067)
Weight: 8.75 grams
Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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