1842-C Small Date Five Dollar, MS63+
1842-C $5 Small Date MS63+ PCGS Secure. Variety 4-C. Die
State I. Any 1842-C half eagle is a valuable and scarce coin, but
when die varieties are considered, one sticks out: the Small Date,
which forms a distinct, small minority of survivors. Doug Winter,
in his Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint, gives an excellent
summation of this prized rarity:
Rarest C-Mint Half Eagle
Tied for Finest Certified
"There were two varieties of half eagle struck at the Charlotte Mint in 1842. It is easy to determine that the Small Date coins were struck first as they show the same date size as on the Charlotte half eagles dated 1840 and 1841.
"The 1842-C Small Date is the rarest Charlotte half eagle. It is also the second rarest Charlotte coin, trailing the excessively rare 1849-C Open Wreath gold dollar. This variety has long been considered a full-fledged member of the Charlotte half eagle series and no date set is truly complete without an example."
Out of a blanket mintage of 27,578 pieces, Winter assigns a mintage of just 4,595 pieces to the Small Date variety, and comparison to nearby issues reveals how small this figure is, even in the context of early Charlotte half eagles. Further contemplating the scenario is the question of strike, which further subdivides the Small Date variety into State I and State II coins, based on whether or not the coins show a rim cud near 12 o'clock on the reverse. Winter speculates that the perfect-die coins are part of " ... the first 2,555 pieces which were produced on March 22, 1842."
This lot displays considerable visual and technical appeal, and it is tied as finest known with the Elrod coin. As a Die State I (or Perfect Dies) piece, it has sharper detail than the majority Die State II pieces, with excellent definition on the central hair and without even a trace of the typical striking softness below the lower part of the coronet. The surfaces are minimally abraded, though a handful of the usual wispy marks are present in the yellow-gold to orange-gold fields, and the luster is frosty and delightful with a hint of reflectivity. The eye appeal is, in a word, gorgeous. The dedicated Southern gold specialist will not want to miss this opportunity. As Winter writes in his summation for the issue, "The 1842-C Small Date is the rarest half eagle from this mint and it is the rarest collectible coin from Charlotte." The Charlotte Mint's best date in the best state -- what collector could ask for more?
Ex: FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 4069, where it brought $126,500 as an MS62.(Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 25SV, PCGS# 8208)
Weight: 8.36 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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