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    1810 Small Date, Small 5 Half Eagle, BD-2
    Sole Finest Known of This R.6 Variety

    1810 $5 Small Date, Small 5 MS62 NGC. CAC. Breen-6461, BD-2, R.6. Bass-Dannreuther Die State Obverse b (more or less) / Reverse b. The 1810-dated half eagles saw a generous mintage for the time and denomination, recorded at 100,287 coins. Those pieces were struck at fairly regular intervals according to the Mint Director's Annual Report for 1810, which lists deliveries in the first through fourth quarters at 22,060; 33,070; 22,217; and 22,940 pieces, respectively.
    Today numismatists also recognize four different die pairings for the issue. Two are common, two extremely rare. The Bass-Dannreuther classifications parallel the Guide Book terminology nicely: The BD-1 is the Small Date, Tall 5, High R.3; BD-2 is Small Date, Small 5, R.6; BD-3 is Large Date, Small 5, High R.7; and BD-4, Large Date, Large 5, R.2.
    The two Small Date varieties, BD-1 and BD-2, were nonetheless produced from different obverse and reverse dies, 1-A and 2-B. The Small 5 reverse die of the BD-2 was shared with the BD-3, dies 3-B, and finally, the BD-4 shared the Large Date obverse of BD-3 with the Large 5 reverse, dies 3-C, providing a die-linking for the four varieties of the year.
    Regarding the present BD-2 variety, Small Date, Small 5, the Bass-Dannreuther reference estimates that the total mintage was some 2,000 to 4,000 coins (only 2%-4% of the yearly total), of which perhaps 25 to 30 are known today.
    Garrett and Guth write of the 1810 Small Date, Small 5 variety in the 2006 first edition of their Gold Encyclopedia:

    "Four major varieties make up the population of the 1810 half eagle, some of which are difficult to tell apart unless the coins (or high-quality photographs of them) are compared with each other. The Small Date, Small 5 is the second-rarest variety among the four, exceeded only by the Large Date, Small 5. In high grade, these two rare varieties can sometimes be worth 10 times the price of the more common varieties, so it pays to learn the differing characteristics within this date. Since 1994, only eight Small Date, Small 5 examples have appeared at auction, led by a PCGS AU-55 coin that sold for $36,800 in 1997. The population reports show three MS-62s at the top level, which the authors suspect is a single coin. Surprisingly, the Smithsonian lacks an example of this variety."

    Today, five years later, the NGC and PCGS populations still show three certifications in MS62, and as far as we can determine, the present MS62 NGC piece is that single coin to which they refer, formerly offered by Stack's in 2008. Positive identification is easy due not only to the advanced obverse die state but also the tiny dark flecks on the reverse at the D of UNITED and the tip of the eagle's left (facing) wing. The obverse die appears close to shattering on this piece, explaining the low production estimates and subsequent rarity. The largest die crack bisects the obverse from rim to rim, passing through the 1 in the date, the clasp, lower hair, Y of LIBERTY, the cap, and back to the rim at 2 o'clock. Another large crack intersects that one at right angles and runs downward to the rim at star 12, and a couple of other smaller, minor cracks appear. The reverse shows a couple of faint cracks through some of the lower peripheral details. The strike is sharply defined on each side, and deep reddish patina surrounds the margins. There are no visible signs of planchet adjustment or mentionable contact.
    Ex: Bergstrom and Husky Collections (Stack's, 6/2008), lot 2077, which realized $138,000.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 42HK, PCGS# 8105)

    Weight: 8.75 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2012
    4th-8th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,134

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