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1809 Classic Head Half Cent : A Collector’s Guide

1809 Classic Head Half Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).
1809 Classic Head Half Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

In 1809, the United States Mint updated the design of the half cent, replacing the Draped Bust design with engraver John Reich’s Classic Head and changing the direction that Liberty faces from right to left. Her hair is also more detailed on the 1809 Classic Head Half Cent, and her bosom is toned down to a curved base. On the reverse, the wreath is fuller and fully wraps around the denomination, which is underlined by a thin horizontal bar.

The Mint deployed six die marriages to strike 1,154,572 half cents in the type’s first year of issue.

1809 Classic Head Half Cent Deliveries

March 30 June 3 June 29 September 29 December 31
120,000 384,572 182,000 210,000 258,000

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

No Mint State Red examples are known to have survived, and Red Brown examples are rare, with fewer than 20 known.

Mint State Brown 1809 Half Cents survive in sufficient quantity that one can pick up an example in grades up to MS63BN for $1,500 to $2,000. AU58 coins seem to be a bargain at $650 to $700 USD.

Top Population: PCGS MS66RB (1, 5/2024), NGC MS65RB (1, 5/2024), and CAC MS66RB (1:0 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

1809 Draped Bust Half Cent, Cohen-1

1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-1. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-1. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Rarity 4+. Eckberg 2-B. The C-1 is the rarest die marriage of the 1809 Half Cent. Even the great D. Brent Pogue Collection did not have one in Mint State. Its rarity was overestimated through the 1960s; today, experts like Bill Eckberg believe survivors number in the 60s. Likely unknown in Mint State.

  • PCGS AU55 #30451273: John Gulde, circa 1973; As PCGS AU55 #30451273. “The James R. McGuigan Half Cent Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2022, Lot 3083 – $36,000. McGuigan on insert. Manley Die State 2.0. There are numerous small scratches in the left obverse field and a deep diagonal planchet void to the right of stars 5 and 6.
  • PCGS AU55 #32708221: Steve Fischer; James R. McGuigan; R. Tettenhorst Collection, by sale, August 1985; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society; Missouri Cabinet Collection; “Missouri Cabinet Collection,” Goldberg Auctioneers, January 2014, Lot 92; “D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part V,” Stack’s Bowers / Sotheby’s, March 31, 2017, Lot 5059 – $28,200. Pogue novelty insert.

1809 Draped Bust Half Cent, Cohen-2

1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-2. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-2. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

Breen-3. Eckberg 2-C. The date is closely spaced, with 809 punched in a nearly straight line (the “9” is slightly higher). The bottom curl is above the right tip of the “0” past the meridian of the “9”. The same reverse die is used on 1809 C-3. In later die states, numerous die cracks develop on the obverse.

  • PCGS MS62RB #32708222: (likely) William Sumner Appleton; Massachusetts Historical Society; Stack’s, May 1971, Lot 10; William K. Raymond; R. Tettenhorst, by sale, September 1976; Missouri Cabinet Collection (Eric P. Newman and Tettenhorst); “The Missouri Cabinet Collection of U.S. Half Cents,” Goldberg Auctioneers, January 2014, Lot 93; As PCGS MS62RB #32708222. “The D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, Part V,” Stack’s Bowers, March 31, 2017, Lot 5060 – $10,575. Pogue novelty insert. Holey orange that is dappled with dark areas throughout.
  • PCGS MS65BN #50089403: “The ESM Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, March 19, 2020, Lot 3038 – $4,320. Cluster of carbon spots to the left of 1. Carbon spot at the rim above star 13. Dark spot at L of LIBERTY and another spot just above hair, above L. Denticles weak at the bottom as the coin is struck slightly off center.
  • PCGS MS62BN CAC #30451274: William K. Raymond, September 8, 1976; R. Tettenhorst’s Davy II Collection; “Davy II Collection,” Goldberg Auctions, September 2011, Lot 373; “The James R. McGuigan Half Cent Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2022, Lot 3084 – $11,400. Davy II-McGuigan on insert. Manley Die State 4.0. Light spot at star 3. Two diagonal ticks in the left field. Tick between L and N on the reverse. Tick between S and O.

1809 Draped Bust Half Cent, Cohen-3

1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-3. Image: NGC / CoinWeek.
1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-3. Image: NGC / CoinWeek.

Rarity-1. Obverse 3 is paired with Reverse C. This is the only use of this obverse die. The date is widely spaced and is configured as 1 80 9. The lowest curl is almost completely over the “0”. A rim break is present above 9 o’clock. Eckberg estimates a surviving population of 3,400 coins. In Manley Die State 1.0, a curved die crack runs across the neck. In Manley Die State 3.0, a faint obverse crack from the hub is visible through stars 1, 2, and 3, with a parallel die crack below stars 2 and 3.

  • PCGS MS66RB CAC #30451275: Thomas D. Reynolds, May 2002. As PCGS MS66RB CAC #30451275. “The James R. McGuigan Half Cent Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2022, Lot 3085 – $84,000. McGuigan on insert. Mostly red. The reverse is slightly off center, with the edge border largely absent from 11 o’clock to 2 o’clock. Superior coin.
  • PCGS MS65RB CAC #50011062: Tom Reynolds; “The Red Headed Copper Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 16, 2018, Lot 5025 – $18,000. Mostly brown, red remnants in some protected areas. Tiny flecks of carbon spotting throughout the obverse field. Carbon spot above F of HALF.
  • PCGS MS64RB CAC #1373765: Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2010, Lot 3808 – $3,737.50. Mostly brown, red remnants in some protected areas. There is a carbon spot at the neck and in the void at the lowest curl. Thin scratch in the left field below star 6. On the reverse, there is a large carbon spot at the tip of the first A of AMERICA.
  • PCGS MS64RB: “The Johnson-Blue Collection,” Stack’s, August 8, 2010, Lot 192 – $2,760. Dark cluster of carbon spots to the left of the chin and neck. Dark spot between 8 and 0. Red in LIBERTY and predominately in the coin’s outer protected areas. On the reverse, there is a fingerprint above HA.
  • NGC MS66BN CAC #5747082-017: George Nelson; Raymond Munde; Jon Hanson, November 11, 1972; Donald G. Partrick. As NGC MS66BN CAC #5747082-017. “The Donald G. Partrick Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2021, Lot 3683 – $21,000. Red is in the protected areas (stars, date, LIBERTY) on the obverse, and HALF CENT is on the reverse. Tony ticks on the neck. There is a small curved scratch above the nostril. On the reverse, there are two small unobtrusive carbon spots: above AT of STATES and at the upper back tip of N of CENTS.
  • PCGS MS65BN CAC #28994236: Stack’s Bowers, March 2015, Lot 12 – $5,288.68; Heritage Auctions, August 5, 2024, Lot 3068 – $7,637.50. There is a dark carbon spot to the bottom right of 9 and the right of star 9. On the reverse, there is a carbon spot on the leaf above C and in the space below HA. Three hits are to the left, on, and to the right of star 12. Hit to the right of star 10. Minor clash marks. Heritage: unlisted Manley Die State.
  • NGC MS65BN #5747082-018: George Geer, 1957; Walter Breen; Jon Hanson, April 15, 1968; “The Donald G. Partrick Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2021, Lot 3684 – $5,520. Donald G. Partrick Collection on insert. Manley Die State 1.0. Bright copper spot at the neck. There is a thin diagonal scratch above the date. Thin horizontal scratch near the rim, near the 12 o’clock position. On the reverse, there is a small carbon spot between the leaf and IC of AMERICA.
  • NGC MS65BN #184541-001: Heritage Auctions, March 25, 2010, Lot 42 – $7,475. Star radials are sharp except for star 7. Small repeating scratches to the right of star 7. Wholesome and chocolatey coin.
  • NGC MS64+BN #4485142-005: As PCGS MS64BN #83152850. Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2017, Lot 3052 – $3,290; As NGC MS64+BN #4485142-005. Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2018, Lot 3049 – $3,120. Upgraded one-half point. Two tiny carbon spots above 0. Spot below star 6. Scattered carbon spots in the lower part of the left field. Dark area around a carbon spot at star 3 towards the rim. Hit in Liberty’s hair above T. Scattered pale areas on the reverse.
  • PCGS MS64BN CAC #21740968: “The ESM Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, March 19, 2020, Lot 3033 – $3,120. Faint red in the coin’s outer protected areas, though not enough to earn RB. Carbon spot in the hair above T. Discolored blob above EN on reverse. Diagonal scratch between F and T.
  • PCGS MS64BN #3725162: Heritage Auctions, March 30, 2018, Lot 3307 – $3,120. Prominent fingerprint (or cluster of fingerprint-like carbon spots) in left obverse field. Dark spot at 12 o’clock. Dark spot to the bottom right of 9. On the reverse, there is a small horizontal tick under L and a carbon spot below the bottom tip of the branch..
  • PCGS MS64BN CAC #06698808: “Terrell Collection,” American Auction Association, May 1973; “A.J. Vanderbilt Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, March 22, 2018, Lot 10002 – $4,680. Hit to the right of star 2. Disturbance of the denticles at 2 o’clock. Thin diagonal scratch to the right of F of OF.
  • PCGS MS64BN CAC #32709384: Heritage Auctions, January 6, 2016, Lot 3596 – $3,290. Diagonal scratch to the left of 1. Carbon spot below 9. On the reverse, a thin scratch is on the border at 6 o’clock.

1809 Draped Bust Half Cent, Cohen-4

1809 Classic Head Half Cent. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-4. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Breen-1. Eckberg 1-A. Rarity-2. Small 0 Inside 0 Variety. The “0” was recut, and the smaller “0” is visible within the “0” of the date. Approximately 1,300 survive.

  • PCGS MS66BN #32708233: Philip M. Showers Collection; Willis H. duPont Collection, en bloc, by sale, via Stack’s, 1969; Fred S. “Freddy” Werner, en bloc, by sale, February 1976; Super Stamp and Coin Company, en bloc, by sale, February 1976; R. Tettenhorst Collection, en bloc, by sale, April 1976; “The Missouri Cabinet Collection,” Goldberg Auctioneers, January 2014, Lot 95 -; “The D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part V,” Stack’s Bowers / Sotheby’s, March 31, 2017, Lot 5061 – $105,750. Pogue novelty insert. Crack through the neck. Pedigree research provided by Stack’s Bowers.
  • PCGS MS64BN CAC #30451272: Possibly William C. Blaisdell via Del Bland; William K. Raymond, July 1979; Roger S. Cohen, Jr., Superior, February 1992, Lot 270; Michael Demling, August 2012; As PCGS MS64BN CAC #30451272. “The James McGuigan Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2022, Lot 3082 – $40,800.

1809/6 Draped Bust Half Cent, Cohen-5

1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-5. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-5. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Breen-5. Eckberg 4-E. Rarity-1. The 1809 Cohen-5 is commonly referred to as the 1809/6 overdate, but in reality, this variety is not an overdate but a blundered date. Also, the Draped Bust design was used in 1806, so an 1809/6 overdate is impossible.

Even in Manley Die State 1.0, die cracks are visible from the left of stars 4 to 6 and above the back portion of Liberty’s head; this is the most common die state. Over time, the dies were lapped to the point where the denticle detail is now completely lost on the obverse and only partially visible on the reverse. The left edge of the curl on the obverse is tucked in above the right curve of the “9”. On the reverse, the highest leaf extends just past the second “S” of STATES. The lowest leaf below the “F” extends just past the serif of the letter’s crossbar. A Guide Book (Red Book) variety.

1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-5, graded NGC MS63RB. Image: NGC / CoinWeek.
1809 Classic Head Half Cent, C-5, graded NGC MS63RB. Image: NGC / CoinWeek.
  • NGC MS63RB CAC #5747052-004: Jon Hanson, April 23, 2001; As NGC MS63RB CAC #5747052-004. “The Donald G. Partrick Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2021, Lot 3687 – $26,400. Donald G. Partrick Collection on insert. Manley Die State 1.0. Predominantly red. Thin scratch to the left of the lip. Thin scratch across the bust. Dark spots on the reverse at the top lead. Green spot inside U.
  • NGC MS65BN CAC #5747095-003: “The Frederick W. Geiss Collection,” B. Max Mehl, February 18, 1947, Lot 300; “The Donald G. Partrick Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2021, Lot 3686 – $9,600. Donald G. Partrick Collection on insert. Manley Die State 3.0. Denticles are apparent only at the bottom of the reverse. Deep diagonal hit to the left of the chin. Small dark spot to the left of the forehead. On the reverse is a small spot between O and F and a small tick to the left of the ribbon. Light brown color.
  • PCGS MS65BN CAC #30451276: (possibly) Michael Moriarity; Carvin Goodridge, Goldberg Auctions, September 2012, Lot 257; As PCGS MS65BN CAC #30451276. Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2022, Lot 3086 – $20,400. Goodbridge-McGuigan on insert. Manley Die State 1.0. Two small copper spots bookend the right and left of star 5. Dark highlights in the hair. Tiny tick to the left of Liberty’s nose. On the reverse is a tiny tick below H of HALF. This is a very attractive coin.
  • PCGS MS65BN CAC #4020338: “The Richard C. Jewell Collection,” American Numismatic Rarities, March 2005, Lot 1117; “The Richard C. Jewell Collection,” American Numismatic Rarities, August 13, 2011, Lot 1117 – $9,200; Stack’s Bowers, August 13, 2011, Lot 7215 – $20,700; “The ESM Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, March 19, 2020, Lot 3035 – $36,000; Bruce Gimelson; “The Garrison Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2024, Lot 4011 – $18,000. Old Green Holder. Small diagonal mark to the left of the lip. Manley Die State 1.0. Patches of lighter and darker color throughout obverse and reverse.
  • NGC MS65BN #4627273-001: Heritage Auctions, August 16, 2018, Lot 5026 – $9,600. Manley Die State 3.0. Denticles are apparent only at the bottom of the reverse. Tick between the ribbon on the back of Liberty’s head and star 11. Planchet has lightness around the edge from 1 to star 2. On the reverse, there is a tick below the ribbon.
  • PCGS MS65BN #32708225: Howard Rounds Newcomb Collection; Col. E.H.R. Green, by sale, en bloc, via B. Max Mehl, 1935; Col. E.H.R. Green Estate, June 1936; B.G. Johnson and Eric P. Newman, by sale, April 1943; Eric P. Newman, by exchange; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, 1980; Missouri Cabinet Collection; “Missouri Cabinet Collection,” Goldberg Auctioneers, January 2014, Lot 97; “D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part V,” Stack’s Bowers / Sotheby’s, March 31, 2017, Lot 5063 – $32,900Pedigree research provided by Stack’s Bowers. D. Brent Pogue novelty insert.
  • PCGS MS65BN #32708224: The TAD Collection; Stack’s, March 1975, Lot 842; R. Tettenhorst Collection; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society; Missouri Cabinet Collection; “Missouri Cabinet Collection,” Goldberg Auctioneers, January 2014, Lot 96; “D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part V,” Stack’s Bowers / Sotheby’s, March 31, 2017, Lot 5062 – $30,550Pedigree research provided by Stack’s Bowers. D. Brent Pogue novelty insert.
  • PCGS MS64BN CAC #45533915: Stack’s Bowers, August 23, 2022, Lot 2034 – $9,000; Stack’s Bowers, March 21, 2023, Lot 3067 – $10,500. Manley Die State 1.0. Three tiny ticks to the right of the lowest hair locks. Small tick between lips and star 4. Some red color is retained in the protected areas, especially around LIB, the H and C of HALF CENT, and MERICA.
  • PCGS MS64BN CAC #14782575: “Terrell Collection,” American Auction Association / Bowers and Ruddy, May 1973, Lot 107; “A.J. Vanderbilt Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, March 22, 2018, Lot 10003 – $13,200.
  • PCGS MS64BN CAC #41664647: “The Silas Stanley Roberts Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, June 10, 2021, Lot 1264 – $20,400. Roberts lived from 1888-1964. His collection was off the market for nearly 60 years.
  • NGC MS64BN #394956-001: Heritage Auctions, September 23, 2003, Lot 13007 – $3,335.

1809 Draped Bust Half Cent, Cohen-6

1809 Classic Head Half Cent, Cohen-6. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1809 Classic Head Half Cent, Cohen-6. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Breen-6. Rarity-1. There is a crack across the portrait from the hub and a thin die crack across the top of STAT. In later die states, a cud appears above stars 9 and 10.

  • PCGS MS65+BN CAC #30451279: Coin Galleries, May 1989, Lot 1576; “The James R. McGuigan Half Cent Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 2022, Lot 3087 – $15,600; Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2024, Lot 3060 – $18,000. McGuigan on insert. Scattered red areas (inside 0, below lowest curl, between stars 6 and 7, between IB and RT, at star 10,  between stars 12 and 13). There is a curved dark area on the reverse from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock.
  • PCGS MS65+ BN CAC #32708226: Howard Rounds Newcomb; Col. E.H.R. Green via B. Max Mehl, 1935; Green estate to B.G. Johnson and Eric P. Newcomb, by sale, April 1943; Eric P. Newman, Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, 1980; Missouri Cabinet Collection; Ira and Larry Goldberg sale of Missouri Cabinet, January 2014, Lot 98, “The D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, Part V,” March 2017, lot 5064. D. Brent Pogue novelty insert; D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part VII, March 2020, 7006 – $28,800; Stack’s Bowers, August 6, 2020, Lot 1150 – Passed.
  • PCGS MS65BN #82259023: “The D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, Part V,” March 2017, lot 5065 – $10,575. D. Brent Pogue novelty insert.
  • PCGS MS65BN CAC #27393773: William K. Raymond, September 8, 1978; R. Tettenhorst; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society; “The Missouri Cabinet,” Goldberg Auctions, January 2014, Lot 99; Bruce Gilmelson; “The Garrison Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2024, Lot 3059 – $14,400.
  • PCGS MS64BN #16116256: Heritage Auctions, March 17, 2011, Lot 3025 – $3,220. Discoloration on the left side of the obverse, left of a visible line through the planchet from the border above star 7 to the 1 of the date. Discoloration from a carbon spot at IB. The reverse is rotated 60 degrees.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1809
Denomination: Half Cent (USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 1,154,572
Alloy: Copper
Weight: 5.44 g
Diameter: 23.50 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: John Reich
REV Designer: John Reich
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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