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    Outstanding Condition Rarity 1812 Gem Five Dollar, BD-1

    1812 $5 MS65 PCGS. Breen-6466, BD-1, R.3. The two varieties of 1812 half eagle have a common obverse paired with two reverses. A widely spaced 5 D is diagnostic of BD-1, as is the feather tip positioned over the right edge of the flag of the 5, and the D wholly under the branch instead of under the arrow feather as is the case with BD-2.
    The 1812 half eagle is part of the Capped Bust Left design type that was coined from 1807 to 1812. Nearly 400,000 pieces were minted of the type, designed by Assistant Engraver John Reich. The design was promptly met with criticism, as some newspaper accounts of the day characterized Reich's new effigy of Liberty as "the artist's fat mistress."
    While Reich's new design with a floppy cap has traditionally been called Capped Bust, the previous type (minted from 1795 to 1807) by Robert Scot also had a capped bust. This design also has drapery, so the nomenclature has been confusing. John Dannreuther and Harry Bass, Jr., in their 2006 reference work on Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties: A Study of Die States, 1795-1834, address this situation: "The definitive difference is the direction Miss Liberty is facing. The previous type has her facing right, while this type has her facing left. So, some have referred to the first series (1795-1807) as Capped Bust Right and this series (1807-1812) as Capped Bust Left. To avoid confusion, we have labeled the two designs as Draped Bust and Capped Bust--no matter what they are called, they are the pinnacles of early American gold coinage."
    The 1812 issue, with a mintage of 58,057 pieces, is one of the rarest of the type. More specifically, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, in their 2006 treatise entitled Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins, 1795-1933, say that the 1812 is the third-rarest date of the type, slightly more common than the 1808 with 55,578 coins produced, but not as elusive as the 1809, which saw 33,875 pieces minted.
    An inspection of the PCGS/NGC population data reveals that 1812 half eagles can be located in Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated condition without too much difficulty. Even specimens n the lower Mint State grades can be located with patience and some searching. Select and near-Gem examples, on the other hand, are quite scarce, and anything finer is extremely rare. Indeed, the two services have graded only 14 MS65 coins (some of which are likely resubmissions), and PCGS has seen a solitary Premium Gem, the finest certified.
    Dazzling luster radiates from both sides of the gorgeous Gem presented in the current lot, each of which is adorned with peach-gold color, accented with whispers of reddish-gold at the margins. A well executed strike emboldens the design features, including excellent definition in Liberty's hair strands, all of the star centrals, and most of the eagle's plumage. In fact, the only notable softness that we see is in the upper extremity of the shield. Well preserved surfaces reveal just a few minuscule marks scattered about that are completely within the parameters of the grade designation. We would classify the light, parallel horizontal lines on Liberty's portrait that are visible under magnification as roller marks (as opposed to adjustment marks, that tend to be deeper and less than parallel). These do not detract in the least from the coin's outstanding eye appeal. The specialist in early gold will want to give this piece serious consideration. Housed in a green-label holder. Population: 4 in 65, 1 finer (11/07).(Registry values: P2)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 25PL, PCGS# 8112)

    Weight: 8.75 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

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

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2008
    9th-12th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,371

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