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    1823 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, MS65
    BD-1, Only Dies for the Date
    Tied for Finest Certified

    1823 $5 BD-1, High R.4, MS65 NGC. Bass/Dannreuther Die State a/a, the "perfect" obverse and reverse, i.e., struck before the dies clashed. The 1823 Capped Head Left half eagle claims a smallish mintage of 14,485 pieces, but some 1823-dated coins may have been struck in later years, as the Mint often continued using serviceable dies until they failed, regardless of calendar year. A single variety is known for the date, classified as BD-1 in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, by Harry Bass and John Dannreuther. The obverse has a Curved Base 2 and a Belted 8 in the date. A defective letter punch (with a triangular punch in the bottom of the upright) was used to impress all the T's on the reverse die. This was the only use of the obverse die, but the hardy reverse was first used to strike the BD-9 variety of 1820 and continued to produce all the half eagle's from 1821 through 1824.

    PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population of the 1823 at 70-90 examples in all grades. NGC and PCGS have combined to certify 62 examples between them, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (11/19). The 1823 Capped Head Left half eagle would be considered a major rarity in most series, but it is actually the most available half eagle minted from 1821 through 1829.

    The 1823 half eagle was a favorite of collectors in the early years of the hobby. What may have been its earliest auction appearance was in lot 2774 of the Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 3/1865):

    "1823 Splendid, nearly proof, and extremely rare; never before offered at public sale."

    The coin, which sounds a lot like the one offered here in terms of quality, realized a strong price of $37.50, to coin dealer William Strobridge. By the 1940s, the position of the 1823 half eagle as a rare, but not the rarest, date in the series was established and prices had risen considerably. B. Max Mehl cataloged an example in lot 1640 of his William Cutler Atwater Collection catalog as:

    "1823 Extremely fine with considerable mint luster. A short light die depression between the fifth and sixth stars from right. Looks like a scratch but is not. A very light nick to the left of head and one on neck. These are infinitesimal and hardly noticeable. Very rare. Record up to $275.00 for this date Half Eagle."

    Of course, prices of all early half eagles have risen exponentially in recent times and the current record price realized for the 1823 issue belongs to the MS65 NGC example in lot 5096 of the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2011), which brought $299,000.

    The present coin is one of the finest-known examples of this early U.S. gold issue. NGC has certified this coin and one other specimen in MS65, with none finer, while PCGS has graded a single example in MS65, also with none finer (11/19). The design elements of this piece are sharply detailed in most areas, with just a touch of localized softness on the curl by Liberty's ear. Dentilation is slightly weaker on the right obverse rim than on the rest of the coin. The well-preserved yellow and rose-gold surfaces show only the most insignificant signs of contact, with vibrant satiny mint luster throughout. Overall eye appeal is terrific. This coin will be a welcome addition to the finest collection or Registry Set. (NGC ID# BFY4, Variety PCGS# 519932, Base PCGS# 8131)

    Weight: 8.75 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 19
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 580

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    I wish to extend our appreciation to you for over $925,000.00 realized from the above subject auction. This amount realized was approximately $110,000.00 more than we anticipated.
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    Newport Beach, CA
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