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    Description

    1828 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, BD-4, MS62
    Underrated Early Gold Rarity
    Ex: Mickley/Garrett/Bass

    1828 $5 MS62 PCGS. BD-4, R.7. Ex: HW Bass Jr Collection. Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/b. The 1828 Capped Head Left half eagle should be a celebrated rarity in the early U.S. gold series, but its extremely elusive nature is often overlooked, outside of series specialists. Mint records indicate 28,029 half eagles were struck in 1828, with four die varieties known for the date. Two of the varieties were struck from an overdated obverse die left over from 1827, while the other two varieties have perfect dates. This coin represents the BD-4 variety, with a perfect date and stars 1 and 13 placed near the bust. All four varieties of the 1828 half eagle are very rare (one, BD-2, is unique). The BD-4 is the most "available" variety, if such a term can be applied to an issue with fewer than a dozen examples known. PCGS and NGC have combined to certify a total of eight specimens of the perfect date 1828 half eagle (8/16), but even that small total may include some duplication. Two of the known survivors are sequestered in the Smithsonian Institution and the Harry Bass Foundation, out of reach of eager collectors. We have compiled a roster of all specimens known to us (nine pieces) below.

    The present coin has a most distinguished pedigree that has gone largely untraced in previous auction appearances. In the May 2016 catalog of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, John Kraljevich pointed out an error in the prior pedigree of the 1827 half eagle in lot 4033. That coin had been erroneously pedigreed in lot 469 of the Garrett Collection, Part I (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979) to a November 25, 1919-dated transaction between Boston coin dealer William Hesslein and John Work Garrett, due to a typographical error.

    What was not revealed, however, is that apparently the same error occurred in cataloging this specimen, which also appeared in the Garrett sale, lot 470, and the earlier pedigree of this coin has been lost ever since. We are pleased to present -- for the first time, to our knowledge -- the expanded early pedigree of this important 1828 half eagle, which heretofore has been unrecorded, and unquestionably enhances the significance of the present example.

    This piece was actually purchased much earlier than indicated in the Garrett catalog, by numismatic patriarch T. Harrison Garrett, from another, more famous Boston coin dealer, W. Elliot Woodward. The circumstances of this purchase are outlined in correspondence in the Garrett papers, which are now housed in the library of the American Numismatic Society. Woodward sent several letters to Garrett in January of 1883, detailing the possible acquisition of a truly spectacular collection of early American gold coins. He hoped Garrett would be interested in many of the finer pieces from this collection and offered him a remarkable selection of coins at a price that would make the purchase of the entire collection financially viable for him in a January 17, 1883-dated telegram:

    "Will you take Half Eagles Ninety Six, Ninety Seven, Eighteen Two, Three, Nineteen, Twenty One, Twenty Four, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine; Quarter Eagles Eighteen Five, Twenty Six. All Fine, some nearly Proof. Two Hundred Dollars. Answer Immediately-Owner Just Leaving Boston."


    Garrett agreed to purchase this lot at the suggested price and Woodward succeeded in securing the entire collection just before the owner left town that night. In a letter posted to Garrett the next day, Woodward revealed much more about the history of this fabulous gathering:

    "I think I mentioned to you that I once owned the collection, but a much more interesting fact I did not mention: the pieces formed the gold cabinet of Joseph J. Mickley. After purchasing his coins I sold the gold collection entire and it has now come back to me."



    Woodward first purchased Mickley's entire collection in 1867, after many of his foreign coins were stolen in a robbery at his home in Philadelphia. Woodward offered most of the remaining foreign coins and all the silver and minor U.S. issues in a marvelous auction catalog that set the standard for U.S. coin sales of that era. The U.S. gold portion of the collection was handled separately, with all the coins going to prominent Boston collector William Sumner Appleton in a private transaction before the auction took place. Appleton reportedly paid $4,000 for the gold portion of the collection, but his actual role in the transaction may have been more extensive. It may be that the wealthy Appleton acted as a financial partner or underwriter for Woodward in the purchase of the collection, and received the gold coins as his share of the profits.

    In any case, Appleton owned Mickley's gold collection for the next 15 years, but decided to part with it at some point early in 1882. According to coin dealer Ebenezer Locke Mason, writing in his house organ Mason's Coin Collectors' Magazine in June of 1882:

    "W.S. Appleton, of Boston, has disposed of his gold eagles, half eagles and quarter eagles to a Boston dealer, and it is rumored that Devon-schayer street has a share in the trade."



    Mason was referring to merchant and coin dealer John C. Schayer, whose place of business was located on Devonshire Street, in the heart of Boston's profitable Mercantile district. Apparently, Schayer was the man Woodward actually dealt with when he reacquired Mickley's gold in 1883. Mickley, one of the pioneer numismatists in this country, was collecting coins for at least 5-10 years before the 1828 half eagle was minted, so he may have purchased this coin directly from the Mint, or at a Philadelphia bank at the time of issue. More likely, he may have acquired it from his contacts among bankers and bullion brokers later on. He almost certainly had this coin by 1858, when he wrote his pamphlet Dates of United States Coins and Their Degrees of Rarity, which was largely based on his personal collection and experience in collecting over the previous four decades. Of all the early half eagles he was aware of, Mickley singled out only three dates as being difficult to locate: the 1822, which he called Very Rare, and the 1824 and 1828, which he designated as Rare.

    As outlined above, T. Harrison Garrett purchased the 1828 half eagle, and many other coins from Mickley's collection, in 1883. It remained in his collection until his death, when it was bequeathed, along with the rest of his coins, to his son, Robert Garrett. Robert sold, or traded, his interest in the collection to his brother, John Work Garrett, circa 1919. John Work Garrett bequeathed the collection to Johns Hopkins University after his death in 1942, and the university deaccessioned the Garrett holdings in the 1970s. The U.S. coins were sold in a landmark series of auctions, first by Stack's (1976) and later by Bowers and Ruddy (1979-1981).

    Harry W. Bass, Jr., perhaps the most advanced collector of early gold die varieties of all time, purchased this piece when it appeared in lot 470 of the Garrett Collection, Part I (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979). Like the Garretts, Harry Bass never relinquished this coin. After his death, parts of the Bass Collection were preserved by the Harry Bass Foundation and are currently on display at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs. The rest of his collection, including this coin, was sold in another memorable series of auctions through Bowers and Merena. This piece has been off the market since it was offered in lot 819 of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, Part II, in October of 1999.

    An attractive MS62 specimen, the third or fourth finest known, this coin exhibits well-detailed design elements, with just a touch of the softness on Liberty's hair and the vertical stripes in the shield seen on all examples of this issue. A faint die crack is evident connecting the 5 and D in the denomination. The vivid yellow and rose-gold surfaces show a scattering of minor contact marks and retain much original mint luster, with a few hints of prooflike reflectivity in sheltered areas. A most attractive specimen, combining absolute rarity, strong visual appeal and an illustrious pedigree, it may be years before a comparable example becomes available.

    Roster of 1828 BD-4 Half Eagles:
    1. MS65+ PCGS. Possibly James Ten Eyck, per Mehl's comments in the Dunham catalog; Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 193; Waldo Newcomer (plate match from the Newcomer plates); B. Max Mehl, circa 1931; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, circa 1932; unknown intermediaries; Paramount's Rare Coin List No. 7, 1974, page 52; Davies-Niewoehner Collection (Paramount, 2/1975), lot 561; Auction '79 (Stack's, 7/1979), lot 817; D. Brent Pogue Collection (Stack's Bowers, 5/2016), lot 4035, realized $458,250.
    2. MS64 PCGS. CAC. Dupont Collection; Farish Baldenhofer Collection (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 1246; Samuel Wolfson Collection (Stack's, 10/1962), lot 372; Auction '82 (Paramount, 8/1982), lot 1933; R.E. Naftzger, Jr.; Naftzger-Paramount Fixed Price List; October Sale (Superior, 10/1990), lot 2095; Michael Keston Collection (Superior, 1/1996), lot 119; Harvey W. Jacobson, Jr., FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 4679, realized $402,500; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2013), lot 4517, realized $499,375.
    3. MS63 Uncertified. Davis-Graves Collection (Stack's, 4/1954), lot 1452; Clifford T. Weihman, Josiah K. Lilly, Smithsonian Institution (grade per Garrett and Guth).
    4. MS62 PCGS. Joseph J. Mickley; W. Elliot Woodward; William Sumner Appleton; John C. Schayer; Woodward again; T. Harrison Garrett; Robert Garrett; John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection Part I (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979), lot 470; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999), lot 819; the present coin.
    5. MS62 NGC. Harlan Page Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 217; John H. Clapp Collection; Louis Eliasberg; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 386; Charles Kramer Collection (Stack's/Superior, 11/1988), lot 329; Fort Lauderdale Collection (Superior, 1/2005), lot 1028.
    6. AU55 Prooflike Uncertified. "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 243; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 778; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation.
    7. AU55 PCGS. Margene Heathgate Collection (Superior, 6/1997), lot 1492.
    8. AU Details NGC, Repaired. Heman Ely Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 1/1884), lot 840; All the Kingdoms of the World (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1884), lot 1156; Randall Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 6/1885), lot 933; unknown intermediaries; William Cutler Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1645; Amon G. Carter, Jr. Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 663; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/1999), lot 5700; Smith and Youngman Collections (Bowers and Merena, 3/2003), lot 2272; 68th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 2112; Dallas Signature (Heritage, 10/2006), lot 2715; Donald E. Bently; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), lot 5434. This coin is traceable through its early appearances by the presence of the initials G.W. and the date 1806 inscribed in the fields, mentioned in the descriptions. After the Carter sale, the initials were removed, but the coin is still recognizable.
    9. XF Sharpness, Repaired, Uncertified. Joel Rettew fixed price list, winter 1976; Rare Coin Review 26; Auction '79 (RARCOA, 7/1979), lot 1234; Dr. Jon Kardatzke Collection (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 6/2000), lot 1314.
    From The Hutchinson Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 519943, Base PCGS# 8138)

    Weight: 8.75 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


    View all of [The Hutchinson Collection ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2017
    4th-9th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 31
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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