Extremely Rare 1862-S Five Dollar, MS61
1862-S $5 MS61 NGC. Although gold was being hoarded in the
Eastern U.S. during the Civil War, production and circulation of
gold coins continued on the West coast throughout the decade. The
San Francisco Mint coined 9,500 half eagles in 1862, and nearly
every one of those pieces entered circulation. This piece is one of
just three certified Mint State examples of the date, including a
single PCGS MS62 example and one other NGC MS61 coin. It is fully
lustrous and sharply detailed with splendid light yellow color that
is highlighted by traces of pinkish toning. Both sides have the
usual field marks that are common to these coins, but there are no
individual marks that are significant.
Tied for Second Finest Certified
Despite its rarity, this example has been somewhat overlooked in the past. In 1979, David Akers recorded an average grade of just VF20 for this date, and called it an underrated issue: "The 1862-S is one of the really great rarities of the half eagle series. It ranks 19th (out of 300) in rarity according to number of appearances and is tied for 7th in rarity according to average grade. In 337 catalogues surveyed it never appeared above EF and only twice in that modest grade, just one of those two appearances coming in the past 33 years. I have never seen a full EF specimen and not more than ten others in Fine or VF. Overall, the 1862-S is very nearly as rare as the higher priced 1864-S. This is one of the most underrated issues in the entire series."
It appears that more higher grade circulated examples of this date have been found in recent years as the average grade recorded by Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett was just over XF40. In their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins that was published in 2006, these authors noted: "The date is very rare in any condition and seldom seen at auction or on the bourse floor. ... The 1862-S half eagle is extremely rare in Mint State. Although two coins [now three] have been graded as such, the authors have never seen either example. The 1862-S half eagle is one of the few coins missing from the Smithsonian collection because the Lilly example is actually a fake."
Considering the experience of specialists such as David Akers, Ron Guth, and Jeff Garrett, it is easy to understand the importance of this piece, and the excitement that this opportunity will generate for collectors who specialize in this particular series.(Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 25VR, PCGS# 8293)
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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