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    1870-CC Liberty Half Eagle, AU58
    First and Rarest Carson City Five
    Condition Census Example

    1870-CC $5 AU58 NGC. Variety 1-A. A small mintage of 7,675 Liberty half eagles was accomplished at the Carson City Mint in 1870, the first year of coinage operations at the famous Western facility. The first delivery of 400 pieces took place on March 1 and another batch of 1,490 specimens was delivered before June 30, but most of the coins (5,785 examples) were delivered in the second half of 1870, after the close of the fiscal year. The coins were released into commerce at the time of issue and circulated extensively in the regional economy for many years. It is doubtful that any examples were deliberately saved by contemporary collectors, as there was little numismatic interest in branch mint issues during that era. PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at 75-100 examples in all grades today. NGC has graded a single example in Mint State, at MS62, while PCGS has also graded one Mint State example, the Battle Born Collection specimen, at MS61. The two services have certified a total of 10 coins in AU58, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (11/19).

    For some reason, the elusive nature of the 1870-CC was not appreciated in the 19th century. Augustus Heaton, the patron saint of branch mint issues, did not consider any of the Carson City half eagles rare when he wrote his treatise, Mintmarks, in 1893. It was only after the turn of the century that the underrated 1870-CC came into its own. In the catalog of the Charles W. Cowell Collection (B. Max Mehl, 11/1911), Mehl acknowledged the rarity of the issue. Lot 663 in the section of gold coins of the Carson City Mint reads, "1870 First Half Eagle of this mint. Very fine. Rare." Despite Mehl's endorsement, the lot only realized $6.75. The situation is much different today and examples in AU58 condition regularly bring more than $50,000 on the infrequent occasions when they are offered.

    The present coin is an attractive near-Mint example that fits comfortably in the Condition Census for the issue. The design elements were strongly impressed and show just a trace of wear on the high points of the devices. The pleasing orange-gold surfaces are relatively lightly abraded and retain much of their original mint luster. The overall presentation is most appealing. Census: 6 in 58, 1 finer (11/19).
    From The "So Cal" Collection. (Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 25WA, PCGS# 8320)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    View all of [The "So Cal" Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 411

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