By James McCartney, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers …..
The year 1870 saw the beginning of coin production at the Carson City Mint, starting a decade of low-mintage issues affecting nearly all of the gold denominations. The Liberty half eagle was the smallest of the gold coins manufactured by this western mint, and was more in commerce than the more popular double eagle or eagle.
Just 7,675 half eagles were struck in the inaugural year of production, nearly tripling to a mintage of 20,770 coins in 1871 when bullion deposits had swollen by 800% to $1,003,810. However, despite this production increase, the 1871-CC half eagle remains one of the scarcest issues in the series, with specialist Rusty Goe suggesting a survival rate of less than 1%. With as few as 140 examples remaining of the original mintage, the 1871-CC half eagle is coveted by collectors in any condition and is extremely scarce in AU and above.
We are excited to feature an impressive AU-58 (PCGS) 1871-CC half eagle in our March 2017 Baltimore Auction. It is among the best preserved of the extant population. Tied for third in the Condition Censuses of both Doug Winter and Rusty Goe, this piece is truly significant for enthusiasts of both the Carson City Mint and Liberty gold coinage. PCGS reports only six additional coins at AU-58 with just three events finer through MS-62 (though these numbers are likely inflated by resubmissions). Further approval by CAC validates the exceptional quality of this specimen.
The luster remains satiny and prominent across all but the most vulnerable regions of this remarkable piece. Subtle bronze and pinkish hues accent the predominantly golden-wheat patina found on both sides. The devices are well haloed by mint frosting and the fields are very attractive both under magnified inspection and to the naked eye. The motifs are handsomely rendered for the issue and minting facility, exhibiting overall bold definition with just a negligible softness atop the central elements. Faint evidence of clashing surrounds the eagle on the reverse, most noticeable between the lower beak and left wing.
This Condition Census example will be featured among otherworld-class rarities in our March 2017 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo, sold in conjunction with the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part V. To secure your copy of these exciting catalogs, please contact our offices today at 1-800-458-4646.