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    1830 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, PR63
    Unique Early Gold Proof
    Large D, JD-1 (BD-1)

    1830 $5 PR63 NGC. Large D, JD-1 (BD-1), Unique as a Proof. Early proof gold coins are among the rarest of all United States coinage issues. Conventional wisdom holds that no true proofs were produced at the Philadelphia Mint before 1817, although some special coins of exceptional quality were struck for presentation purposes, etc., all the way back to the establishment of the Mint in 1792. The first gold proofs were struck in 1820, when a few Capped Head Left half eagles were produced. Prior to about 1840, proofs were only minted when some influential collector or, more likely, government official, requested them. Proof production was accomplished by striking specially polished planchets on the medal press, using working dies that were polished for the occasion. Often the same dies were used to strike both proof and business-strike coins.

    There are two varieties of regular-issue 1830 half eagles known today and at least one proof is known for each variety. Both varieties employ the same obverse die. This coin represents the JD-1 variety (which corresponds to the BD-1 business-strike variety), with a Large D in the denomination on the reverse. This specimen is the only known proof of the JD-1 variety.

    Walter Breen discussed the proof 1830 Large D half eagle in his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins as follows: "One seen many years ago, but I have lost track of it. The variety is extremely rare even in business strike form." The coin he lost track of might be the example Saul Teichman mentioned to John Dannreuther when he was researching his United States Proof Coins Vol. IV: Gold in 2017. That piece originally appeared in lot 414 of the XXVI Public Auction Sale (Ben Green, 10/1906):

    "1830 Proof. Sharply and evenly struck. Very rare."

    The lot was purchased by Virgil Brand and listed as number 34997 in his journal. Brand did not indicate if the coin was a proof in his journal entry, simply recording it as an 1830 half eagle, but he paid $33 for it, compared to the $20.75 he paid for the XF 1820 half eagle he purchased in the previous lot at the sale. If this coin was a proof, it could only be an early appearance of the coin offered here, as the two known proofs of the JD-2 variety were sequestered in the Byron Reed and George Earle Collections in 1906.

    Many years later, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth picked up the trail of this specimen in a single paragraph commentary in their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins:

    "Only two examples of the 1830 half eagle are known to exist in Proof. One resides in the Byron Reed Collection at the Durham Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. The other coin, an NGC PR62, currently resides in a private Northeastern collection. Neither the Bass nor the Smithsonian collection contains an 1830 half eagle in Proof. The extreme rarity of early gold Proof coins can be attributed to their high face value and a shortage of American coin collectors at the time of their mintage."

    The present coin is the NGC PR62 (now PR63) piece mentioned by Garrett and Guth, and it is also the plate coin in their reference.

    In addition to the pieces discussed by Breen and by Garrett and Guth, a proof example of the Small D variety appeared in the Eliasberg Collection. Thus it appears that exactly three 1830 half eagles are currently identified as proofs, with only the presently offered piece representing the Large D variety. It is our belief that this coin is unique in proof for the variety. A roster of all 1830 proof half eagles known to us is listed below.

    The present coin is an undoubted Select proof with full star radials and squared off rims. Although the grade is limited by a few scuffs and hairlines in the fields, both sides of this piece have bright yellow-gold color. The fields are fully mirrored and the devices are lightly frosted, imparting a slight cameo appearance. The junction between the fields and devices is crisp and concise, with no evidence of mint frost in the fields at these locations. The letters of LIBERTY and E PLURIBUS UNUM exhibit satiny reflectivity. Slight weakness of detail is noted on the centers of each side. This reverse die was first used for a limited coinage of 1829 Small Diameter half eagles, then lightly lapped for use in 1830. This example is from the lapped reverse die, but exhibits no other die defects. The often-seen die crack through NITED is not present. This coin must have been among the first 1830 half eagles coined. This piece is the only proof 1830 half eagle certified at either of the leading grading services (6/19), making this lot a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the proof gold collector.

    Roster of Proof 1830 Capped Head Left Half Eagles
    Large D, JD-1 (BD-1) Variety

    1. PR63 NGC. Possibly an Iowa collector; XXVI Public Auction Sale (Ben Green, 10/1906), lot 414; Virgil Brand, journal number 34997; Brand Estate; unknown intermediaries; Northeastern Collection; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3541; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2014), lot 5739, realized $229,125; Joan Zieg Steinbrenner; the present coin. The Garrett and Guth plate coin, Dannreuther plate coin.
    Small D, JD-2 (BD-2) Variety
    2. Brilliant Proof 63. George H. Earle Collection (Henry Chapman, June 1912), lot 2398; John H. Clapp Collection; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., via Stack's in 1942; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 390; Gene Sanders; Buddy Ebsen Collection (Superior, 6/1987), lot 2475.
    3. Proof. Byron Reed Collection; Omaha City Library; transferred to Durham Western Heritage Museum.
    From The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection. (Registry values: P1)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 28B8, PCGS# 8164)

    Weight: 8.75 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

    View all of [The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2019
    14th-18th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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