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    1828/7 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, MS63
    Famous Guide Book Overdate, BD-2
    Only Known Example

    1828/7 $5 BD-2, Unique as a Variety, MS63 NGC. The Capped Head Left half eagles, struck from 1813 to 1834, are universally celebrated for the absolute rarity of nearly all the dates of the series. Issues like the 1815 (10 examples known) and the 1822 (three specimens identified) have been acknowledged rarities since the earliest days of the hobby. In addition, the series is replete with distinctive die varieties that were easily recognized and avidly collected by early numismatists. Some of these varieties are extremely rare, like the famous 1825/4 BD-2 half eagle (two examples known), which was recognized by catalogers as early as 1864. Over the years, some of the foremost American numismatists, like John Colvin Randall, Edgar Adams, Waldo Newcomer, Walter Breen, and Harry Bass, among others, have devoted much time and energy to the study of these early die varieties. The study continues today, and the three rarest die varieties of the Capped Head Left series are all relatively recent discoveries. The 1819 BD-3 variety (discovered by Mark Borckardt in 2014), the 1825/4/1 BD-3 variety (discovered by David Kenny in 2013), and the 1828/7 BD-2 variety (identified by Andrew Pollock, circa 1996) are all represented by a single known example, and all were discovered in recent times by alert numismatists who noticed the subtle differences in design that sets these coins apart from their similarly dated counterparts. Heritage Auctions is privileged to present the only known example of the 1828/7 BD-2 Capped Head Left half eagle in this important offering.

    According to Mint records, 28,029 half eagles were struck in 1828, and four die varieties are known for the date. Two varieties (BD-3 and BD-4) were struck from different obverse dies with perfect dates and the other two (BD-1 and BD-2) were produced using the same previously unused, overdated obverse die from 1827. All four varieties are very rare, but the unique 1828/7 BD-2 is, of course, the rarest. The BD-2 is easily recognized by the low position of star 13, close to the hair, and the small distance between F in OF and the eagle's wing on the reverse. John Dannreuther estimates the BD-2 accounted for 2,000-4,000 pieces of the reported mintage, but the present coin is the only known survivor. The obverse die was also used to produce the 1828/7 BD-1 overdate, and the reverse was later used to strike the BD-3 and BD-4 varieties of this date, and the BD-1 variety of 1829.

    The 1828 half eagle is rare as a date, with only 16 specimens confirmed, including all four varieties (four BD-1 examples, this single BD-2, two specimens of the BD-3, and nine examples of the BD-4). The elusive nature of the date was acknowledged in print as early as 1858, when Joseph Mickley published his Dates of United States Coins and Their Degrees of Rarity. Mickley designated the 1828 as R (rare), one of only three early half eagles he considered so elusive (the 1822 and 1824 were the other dates so designated). The earliest transaction we are aware of involving an 1828 half eagle was Matthew Stickney's purchase of an 1828/7 BD-1 example from bullion and exchange brokers Beebee, Ludlow & Co., outlined in an October 1, 1847-dated letter from that firm, which has been preserved in the Stickney Papers at the Peabody Essex Museum. Stickney paid only the bullion price of $5.35 for his coin, which is now part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. The record price for any 1828 half eagle is $632,500 by the MS64 NGC BD-1 specimen in Heritage Auction's 2012 FUN Signature.

    Since the BD-2 variety was not discovered until 1996, this coin was not correctly attributed in any prior auction appearance and its early history is something of a mystery. We believe the coin first surfaced in Stack's Sale 37, in December of 1939. Stack's description of lot 100 in that catalog reads:

    "1828 over 27. Perfectly centered. Head and stars very sharply struck, the overdate is plainly visible. Reverse also struck very sharp. Uncirculated with proof like surface. Possibly the finest known specimen. Excessively rare. PLATE."

    The plate of lot 100 shows the F in OF close to the wing and the low star 13, near the curl on the obverse, identifying the unique BD-2 variety. Records indicate Colonel James W. Flanagan paid Stack's $845 for this coin in January, 1940, either as the winning bidder of the lot in Sale 37 or as a private sale, we have not been able to determine the exact nature of the transaction. The coin was a highlight of several prominent collections auctioned by Stack's in the next few decades, including J.F. Bell, Farish Baldenhofer, and Samuel Wolfson, but tracing the history of this piece is quite difficult, due to the practice of using stock photos that was prevalent among many coin dealers of this era. Stack's used the images of "Colonel" Green's half eagle's, which they photographed in 1943, to illustrate many of the coins in their Flanagan, J.F. Bell, and H.R. Lee sales, including the 1828/7 half eagles in these auctions, making plate matching this issue problematic during this time frame. In fairness to Stack's, B. Max Mehl, Abe Kosoff, and other contemporary coin dealers also used stock photos liberally during this era. Reusing the earlier negatives may have begun as a patriotic response to wartime rationing of paper and silver, both used in the photographic processes of that time. To further complicate the issue, the plates of the 1828/7 and 1828 half eagles in the Flanagan sale were switched in the catalog. The confusion continues to the present day, where the image mistakenly used to represent the BD-2 in John Dannreuther's excellent series reference is actually a reprint of the picture of the BD-1 from the preceding section of the book. We have reconstructed the history of this coin to the best of our ability in the pedigree below but, clearly, many questions remain unanswered about this unique and enigmatic coin.

    The coin offered here is an attractive Select specimen with pleasing antique-gold surfaces that show highlights of copper patina around the devices. As noted in the Stack's description above, the design elements are sharply detailed, aside from the slightest touch of flatness on a few star centers. Liberty's hair and cap, and the eagle and shield on the reverse exhibit razor-sharp definition throughout. Bright, prooflike reflectivity is evident in many areas. A few scattered, minor contact marks are present, but they do little to detract from the exceptional visual appeal. Off the market for the last 18 years, and correctly attributed for the first time in its history, we expect intense competition from series specialists when this unique early half eagle crosses the auction block.
    Census: 1 in 63, 0 finer (1/17).
    Ex: Sale 37 (Stack's, 12/1939), lot 100; Col. James W. Flanagan, purchased from Stack's in January 1940 for $845; Flanagan Collection (Stack's, 3/1944), lot 1103; J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 349; Charles Fisher, per P. Scott Rubin's annotated copy of the sale; Dupont Collection; Farish Baldenhofer Collection (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 1245; Metropolitan New York Convention (Stack's, 5/1958), lot 1235; Samuel W. Wolfson Collection (Stack's, 10/1962), lot 371; John Murrell; Auction '80 (Paramount, 8/1980), lot 927; Auction '88 (Akers, 7/1988), lot 903; Brooks Collection (Bowers and Merena, 6/1989), lot 377; Michael Keston, purchased from Superior in August of 1989; Keston Collection (Superior, 1/1996), lot 118; Dr. Richard Ariagno Collection (Ira & Larry Goldberg, 5/1999), lot 719.
    From The Hutchinson Collection, Part II.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 519941, Base PCGS# 8138)

    Weight: 8.75 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

    View all of [The Hutchinson Collection, Part II ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2017
    26th-30th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 29
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,064

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

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