On June 18, 1812, President James Madison declared war on the United Kingdom in response to the impressment of American sailors and interference in America’s expansion westward, thus precipitating an armed conflict that would last the next two-and-a-half years.
In the midst of this turmoil, business carried on as usual at the Philadelphia Mint in the opening year of the War of 1812. Gold coins remained in demand for foreign trade and production did not slow down. The reported mintage for all 1812 half eagle varieties is 58,087 pieces, but this is likely low.
Work to extend die life seems to have paid off dividends as the entire mintage of at least 58,087 pieces was accomplished using only one obverse and two reverse dies. The significantly scarcer of the two pairings, the BD-2 variety, can be recognized by the close 5 D. denomination indicator on the reverse, the only use for this die. It has been estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 coins were struck with this combination, and with a general attrition rate of under 1%, this leaves less than 100 examples in all levels of preservation for numismatists to admire.
Fortunately for admirers of early American gold coinage, the 1812 half eagles are among the most available of the Capped Bust series in Mint State and are generally very well struck, making the issue a prime candidate for inclusion in a top grade type set. A glorious example from the last issue of the Capped Bust half eagles and one deserving of a place of honor in the finest cabinet.
This satiny Gem will be right at home in the finest type set or advanced early gold collection. It displays even deep yellow gold color over smooth and highly lustrous surfaces. The devices are boldly struck and there is not a single area of distraction. Seldom are Capped Bust Left half eagles of any date or die marriage offered that are as technically sound and aesthetically pleasing as this delightful 1812 making this a prime opportunity for the knowledgeable collector.
PCGS Population: 6; Two finer (MS-66+ finest).