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    1796/5 Capped Bust Right Five Dollar
    BD-1, MS62

    Earliest Gold Overdate, Ex: Eliasberg

    1796/5 $5 BD-1, High R.4, MS62 PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex: Eliasberg. Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/c. Mint records indicate 6,196 Capped Bust Right half eagles were struck in 1796, but numismatists are virtually certain that most of those coins were dated 1795. In fact, all the 1796-dated half eagles were struck from a single pair of dies that were held over from 1795 (the BD-1 die pair). The obverse die was not used in 1795, so it was easily overdated by punching a 6 over the final digit in the date. The remnants of the undertype 5 are easily detected under the 6. The reverse die was used previously to strike the rare BD-12 variety of 1795. The 1796 BD-1 is a very scarce issue, with a surviving population of 80-100 examples in all grades. John Dannreuther estimates the 1796-dated coins probably accounted for 1,057-2,000 pieces of the reported mintage.

    The 1796 half eagle was popular with collectors from the earliest days of the hobby, and the prominent overdate was recognized by students of the series at an early date. John W. Haseltine and John Colvin Randall began systematically attributing gold and silver coins by die variety by the early 1880s. In lot 327 of his catalog of the William J. Jenks Collection (6/1883), Haseltine noted, "1796, struck over 1795. A beautiful half eagle in barely circulated condition, and excessively rare so fine." Later students of the series also noticed the prominent overdate and Walter Breen reported the 1796/5 half eagle was tied with the 1796/5 half dime for the earliest overdate in U.S. federal coinage.

    The present coin has a particularly illustrious history, as it first surfaced in the possession of well-known numismatist Elmer Sears, of Fall River, Massachusetts. Sears sold the coin to Washington, D.C. collector John H. Clapp in 1909, and he held it until his death in 1940. Clapp's estate sold his entire collection to super-collector Louis E, Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's. Eliasberg was the only man to ever assemble a complete collection of United States federal coinage. In his turn, Eliasberg held the coin until his death in 1976. Six years later, the gold portion of his fabulous collection was auctioned by Bowers and Ruddy. The coin last appeared at auction in lot 4856 of our Pittsburgh Signature (Heritage, 10/2011), where it realized a stunning $207,000.

    Harry Bass reported a later die state of the BD-1 that shows a "crack from edge below 9 -- bottom of 6." John Dannreuther observes, "The crack noted above is seldom seen and Harry Bass does not seem to have acquired an example with this feature." Interestingly, the present coin shows a number of lintmarks on the obverse, including one in the exact position of the reported crack. We have seen no other examples of a coin with such a crack and speculate that Bass may have seen the lintmark on the present piece (perhaps in a photo) and mistaken it for a die crack. If that is true, then the later die state, b/c, does not exist. More investigation is needed to confirm this theory.

    While a few finer examples appear in the certification charts, this example is the finest we have ever offered. This lovely specimen has brilliant green-gold surfaces with satin luster and mostly sharp design features, although the centers are a trifle weak, the result of minor reverse adjustment marks. Splashes of delicate peripheral rose toning enhance its eye appeal. This is a wonderful opportunity for the advanced early gold specialist to acquire a rarity in impressive condition, with an illustrious pedigree. Population: 2 in 62 (1 in 62+), 0 finer (1/18).
    Ex: Elmer S. Sears (1909); John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 327; Pittsburgh Signature (Heritage, 10/2011), lot 4856 (MS62 NGC), realized $207,000.
    Selections from The McCoy Family Collection of U.S. Early Gold.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# BFWU, Variety PCGS# 519862, Base PCGS# 8067)

    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 all of [Selections from The McCoy Family Collection of U.S. Early Gold ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    25th-29th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,299

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