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    Description

    1929 Half Eagle, MS64
    Heavily Melted, Final-Year Issue

    1929 $5 MS64 PCGS. In discussions of key dates in the Indian half eagle series, the 1909-O is usually the first the come to mind, due to its low mintage of only 34,200 coins, its correspondingly low survival rate, and its popularity as the only coin of this type struck at the New Orleans Mint before it ceased coinage operations early in the year. But in terms of absolute rarity, the 1929 is actually the rarer coin.

    The 1929 had a fairly substantial mintage of 662,000 pieces, but these were never distributed into circulation. The stock market crashed this same year, and the need for many gold denominations in daily commerce dwindled. As a result, nearly the entire mintage remained in Treasury and bank vaults when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 in 1933, banning the private ownership of monetary gold. His reasoning was that the supposed public hoarding of gold coins was hurting the recovery process. All gold coins that remained in Treasury or bank vaults at the time, including the 1929 half eagle, were recalled and melted by the government.

    A small number of pieces survived, however, and as can be seen from the certified population data, most examples are in some Mint State grade, primarily MS64 or lower. It is not known exactly how these pieces escaped the melting pots, but it is conceivable that certain bank tellers or Treasury employees rescued them by substituting older pieces from their pockets. They certainly were not pulled from circulation, as very few show any sign of wear.

    This Choice example is awash in rich orange-gold and olive hues, with sharply struck design elements. A few light, scattered marks in the fields, primarily on the reverse, preclude a full Gem grade assessment, but hardly inhibit the eye appeal. Radiant luster resides beneath the patina. PCGS has certified only eight numerically finer examples (12/14).

    The importance of this scarce, final-year issue was not immediately recognized, possibly due to the challenges of the Depression. The first piece we know of that appeared at public auction was a "brilliant Uncirculated" example offered in Stack's 1944 sale of the Col. James W. Flanagan Collection. The coin brought an impressive $225, some $150 more than its estimated value at the time. The date's allure has not waned in the least, and any example that appears at auction still draws spirited bidding.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 28E2, PCGS# 8533)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 508

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