Our current Long Beach Signature Auction features a monumental coin for Charlotte branch mint specialists — an 1840-C half eagle graded MS64+ by PCGS and endorsed for quality and originality by CAC. The Charlotte Mint began coining operations in 1838 and was only in its third year of production when it struck 18,992 Liberty Head half eagles in 1840. Several design changes were inaugurated that year. The portrait was modified, and the C mintmark was moved to the reverse, where it would remain for the duration of the series.
The 1840-C, more than just an early C-mint issue or the first year of the modified design, is one of the rarest half eagles produced at the North Carolina facility. The issue is scarce in any grade with about 125 to 150 survivors extant, according to Doug Winter. That puts it on par with the 1841-C and 1844-C, although it is more elusive in Mint State than either of those two issues. In fact, only the 1838-C, the 1842-C Small Date, and the 1861-C are rarer in Uncirculated condition.
Within the context of the issue, this MS64+ example with CAC approval is unparalleled in terms of its preservation and eye appeal. It is the single finest representative at PCGS by one and a half points, and the only near-Gem example endorsed by CAC. Its closest challenger is likely the Farouk-Pittman coin, which was graded MS64 by NGC in its last public appearance, but may now represent the single MS64+ submission at that service.
Confirming this coin’s status and explaining its origin, David Hall writes for PCGS CoinFacts:
“In July, 2010 two fresh new coins appeared ‘out of the woodwork.’ They are the PCGS graded MS63 and MS64+. The MS64+ is probably the finest known and the MS63 is probably tied for second finest known with the fantastic John Pittman specimen. These two ‘new’ coins had been basically unknown to the numismatic marketplace and were ‘discovered’ in the Northeast United States were they had been in a family’s private holdings for over 50 years.”
Potential interested parties should strongly consider a premium bid, as this coin may disappear once again into strong hands for some time. This green-gold near-Gem has satiny luster and excellent design definition. Although shy of fully struck, the relief elements are far stronger than typically seen for a Charlotte product. Slight softness is evident in the hair below ER of LIBERTY, and some original planchet roughness appears in that area. A hint of pale copper-orange toning on both sides adds to the incredible eye appeal.