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    Description

    1831 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, MS61
    Rare Small 5D, BD-1 Variety
    Nine Examples Traced

    1831 $5 Small 5D, BD-1, High R.6-R.7, MS61 NGC. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b/c. Despite a substantial mintage of 140,594 pieces, the 1831 Capped Head Left half eagle is a rare issue in all grades today. The elusive nature of this date is not well-known, outside of series specialists, and it has received little commercial attention over the years. Two die varieties are known for the date, both struck from the same obverse die and each using one of the leftover reverse dies from the previous year. This coin represents the very rare BD-1 variety, identified by the Small D in the denomination on the reverse.

    The BD-1 is the rarest 1831 variety, although the BD-2 is also quite elusive. David Akers noted:

    "The relative rarity of the two varieties of 1831 is exactly reversed from 1830. With 1831, the Small 5D is much more rare than the Large 5D. Almost all the 1831 Half Eagles I have seen were the Large 5D variety and I would say the Small 5D is 3-4 times as rare as the Large 5D variety ..."


    We suspect the difference in rarity between the two varieties is not quite as great as Akers thought in absolute terms, but he may have been correct about the availability of the two issues in the marketplace. It seems more examples of the BD-1 are sequestered in institutional collections than the BD-2. Both examples in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution are BD-1 coins, and another BD-1 specimen is impounded in the Harry Bass Foundation. John Dannreuther estimates the surviving population at 14-18 examples in all grades, but we believe the total number of survivors may be even smaller. Our roster of known BD-1 half eagles lists only nine examples that have appeared in recent years, with a few earlier citations that may, or may not, represent the same coins. The population is almost evenly split between coins in circulated grades and Mint State examples. Several specimens are known in impaired condition.

    The present coin is an attractive MS61 specimen with sharply detailed design elements in most areas. Some slight loss of detail is evident on the reverse, due to lapping (this was the second, and final use of the reverse die). Some softness shows on the eagle's left (facing) wing and shield border. The obverse stars are larger than those on any other date of the Reduced Diameter type (struck after 1829). The yellow and greenish-gold surfaces show some scattered, minor contact marks on both sides. An oddly shaped, linear planchet flaw on the obverse is partially struck-out by star 10. The fields show prooflike reflectivity throughout, with some copper-gold patina around the devices. Overall eye appeal is outstanding. This coin is probably the third or fourth finest survivor of this rare, underrated issue. We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called.

    Roster of 1831 BD-1 Half Eagles
    Early catalogers did not differentiate between the two varieties of 1831 half eagles and the lots were seldom plated, making identification of the coins by die variety problematic before recent times.
    1. MS67 PCGS. George Seavey, before 1864; Lorin G. Parmelee purchased Seavey's entire collection in June of 1873; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1003; Harlan Page Smith; H.P. Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 221; John Story Jenks; John Story Jenks Collection (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 5771; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 391; D. Brent Pogue Collection (Stack's Bowers, 5/2016), lot 4040, realized $646,250.
    2. MS65 Prooflike (per Garrett and Guth). Mint Cabinet; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
    3. MS61 NGC. February Auction (Superior, 2/1999), lot 2825. The present coin.
    4. MS61 NGC. Harold P. Newlin; T. Harrison Garrett, purchased on April 28, 1883; Robert Garrett; John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection, Part I (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979), lot 474; Abner Kreisberg; Beverly Hills Collection (purchased 1/18/1980); Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/2005), lot 7789; Donald E. Bently; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), lot 5436.
    5. MS61 (per Garrett and Guth). Possibly William Woodin; Waldo Newcomer; "Col." E.H.R. Green, via B. Max Mehl circa 1932; Clifford T. Weihman; Josiah K. Lilly; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
    6. AU58 NGC. FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/1998), lot 7780.
    7. AU Details. Gilhousen Collection, Part I (Superior, 2/1973), lot 359; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Harry Bass Foundation.
    8. XF45. David B. Silberman, Jr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 5367; Greenwich Collection (Bowers and Merena, 1/1991), lot 146.
    9. XF Details NCS. Possibly Charles Green; purchased by the owner of the Benson Collection on 9/26/1946; Benson Collection, Part III (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 2/2003), lot 2012; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 6/2004), lot 6259; Central States Signature (Heritage, 5/2005), lot 8592; Dallas Signature (Heritage, 4/2007), lot 1698; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 9/2007), lot 3383.

    Other Appearances
    A. Fine. David S. Wilson Collection (S.H. Chapman, 3/1907), lot 81.
    B. Very Fine. William Forester Dunham Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1941), lot 2104; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; H.R. Lee Collection (Stack's, 10/1947), lot 1250; Forty-Ninth Catalog (New Netherlands, 6/1957), lot 383.
    C. Very Fine. Farish Baldenhofer Collection (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 1249.
    From The Hutchinson Collection, Part II. (Variety PCGS# 519948, Base PCGS# 8153)


    View all of [The Hutchinson Collection, Part II ]

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2017
    26th-30th Wednesday-Sunday
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