Bright AU53 1824 Half Eagle, BD-11824 $5 AU53 NGC. Breen-6482, BD-1, High R.5. Sole variety known for the year. The Capped Head Left half eagle series is by far the most challenging to collect in the entire U.S. coinage family. In the early 1830s, vast quantities of silver poured from newly established mines in Mexico and Peru. Having the opposite effect of the California Gold Rush of the 1840s-1850s, this Latin American silver forced a dramatic decline in the price of silver as reckoned in gold. As myriad Mexican silver dollars flooded the United States, hoarders and smelters inadvertently marked the circulating gold coins for extinction.
This passage from Walter Breen's Encyclopedia provides a glimpse of the disaster that befell the half eagle:
"In the National Archives is a reference to public assays (Paris, 1831), at one of which some 40,000 U. S. half eagles of 'recent mintage' (the elusive 1815-30) were melted and found to be of full weight and fineness. This was doubtless only one among many such holocausts, and more were to come through 1837."
Today, Bass-Dannreuther speculate that perhaps 30 to 40 1824 half eagles survive in all grades. This high-grade circulated example should capture the attention of serious gold collectors. Although moderately abraded, the surfaces radiate a bright yellow-gold hue and are free of major impairments. Ample mint luster remains on both sides, although the strike overall is better on the reverse. Census: 1 in 53, 15 finer (7/11).
From The Oliver Collection.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# BFY5, PCGS# 8132)
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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