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    1825/4/1 Half Eagle, BD-3, MS61
    Discovery Coin for the Variety
    Possibly Unique, Ex: Byron Reed

    1825/1 $5 MS61 NGC. Ex: Reed. According to Mint records, a nominal mintage of 29,060 Capped Bust Left half eagles was accomplished in 1825. For 188 years after the production of these coins it was believed that only two die varieties were known for the date, the BD-1 (often called 1825/1) with a surviving population of 25-30 examples, and the ultra-rare BD-2 (called 1825/4), with exactly two known survivors. The numismatic community was amazed earlier this year when collector David Kenny discovered a third die variety of the 1825 issue, which features a different reverse than the other two varieties. This discovery, which has been confirmed by noted early gold specialist John Dannreuther, is the first new early half eagle die variety to be reported since the publication of the Bass-Dannreuther series reference in 2006.

    The familiar BD-1 and BD-2 overdate varieties have different obverse dies, but share a common reverse, with the BD-2 in a later die state. The newly discovered BD-3 variety shares the same obverse die with the BD-1, but the reverse die shows the middle arrow pointing to the center of R in AMERICA, while the BD-1 reverse has this arrow pointing to the right foot of the R. The BD-3 reverse was used previously to coin the 1820 BD-4, BD-5, and BD-7 varieties, and used again to strike the 1826 BD-1 variety. Researchers, including John Dannreuther, have noted how strange it was that the Mint apparently did not use this reverse die in coining the fairly large emission of half eagles in 1825, since the use of serviceable reverse dies from one year to the next was common practice in the early 19th century. The discovery of this coin confirms that the Mint actually did follow this accepted practice, for at least a limited production run that year.

    Further research by Saul Teichman has settled another point of controversy. The undertype numeral below the last digit of the date has variously been deciphered as a 1 by some researchers and a 4 by others. Teichman showed that the die was originally a leftover 1821 obverse that was overdated in 1824, but not used in that year. Subsequently, the die was overdated again in 1825 and pressed into service. The correct overdate is thus 1825/4/1.

    The present coin has a long and illustrious history, stretching back to prominent collector Byron Reed, who was active in the last quarter of the 19th century. Unfortunately, the coin's important die variety went unnoticed by catalogers and researchers over the years because no one was looking for a third variety of the 1825 half eagle. Researchers understandably concentrated on the obvious differences in the two known obverse dies when classifying this coin, and the different reverse went unnoticed. David Kenny finally noted the different reverse while studying the coin from its January 2007 FUN Signature appearance in the Heritage Auctions archives. Because the variety was identified from images, rather than from studying the coin itself, the consignor of this lot was unaware of its currently unique status when it was consigned. Heritage catalogers were able to identify it with the assistance of Saul Teichman, and it is now offered for the first time with the correct variety designation.

    As a date, 1825 half eagles are rare, especially in Mint State condition. Over the last two decades, Heritage has offered only one other Mint State example of this date, an appealing MS62 PCGS coin in lot 4676 of the January 2012 FUN Signature that realized $97,750. Of course, the present coin was offered once before, in the 2007 appearance that David Kenny used in his research. This delightful MS61 specimen displays a blend of yellow-gold and apricot-gold color with decent luster. A powerful strike manifests itself in sharp definition on design elements that are well brought up and well-centered on the planchet. The surfaces exhibit prooflike tendencies, especially when the piece is rotated under a light source. Some wispy hairlines in the reverse fields are mentioned for accuracy. While it is possible that some more examples of the BD-3 variety may be identified, now that specialists know to look for them, it is unlikely that more than a few will surface and this coin is currently unique. This lot represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the advanced collector of early U.S. gold. Census: 4 in 61, 2 finer (11/13).
    Ex: Byron Reed, before 1891; Omaha City Library/Durham Western Heritage Museum; Byron Reed Collection (Christie's-Spink America, 10/1996), lot 114; Pre-Long Beach Sale (Superior, 5/2001), lot 4046; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3538, which realized $51,750.
    From the collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# BFY6, PCGS# 8133)

    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 [The collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2014
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,502

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