By James McCartney, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stack’s Bowers …..
The half eagles struck at the Dahlonega Mint in 1839 represent a very significant and popular issue from that Georgia mint. Our June 2017 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore will feature a delightful AU-58 1839-D half eagle that is among the finest survivors known.
1839 was the second year of production for the Dahlonega facility, but the first year that both quarter eagles and half eagles were struck. Liberty’s portrait on the 1839-D half eagle is considerably different than that used the following year and throughout the rest of the Liberty Head series. It exhibits deep curvature to the neck truncation and significant distance between the back of the portrait and star 13. Similarly, it is the only Dahlonega issue with the mintmark on the obverse above the date, as this feature was moved to the reverse below the eagle starting in 1840.
Though production at Dahlonega would peak near 100,000 half eagles for some dates in the 1840s and ’50s, just 18,939 half eagles were stuck in 1839. From this mintage, only 125 to 150 are thought to remain for today’s collectors, with the majority in Extremely Fine preservation or lower. Specialist Doug Winter notes in his 2003 reference that AU-50 examples are “quite rare,” and that survivors are “very rare in the higher About Uncirculated grades.”
Indeed, Choice AU pieces like the one offered in our June auction are remarkably elusive. PCGS has certified only six other examples at the current grade, with just seven pieces finer; the highest graded is MS-62. This coin ranks among the most handsomely preserved examples of this issue and certainly approaches the lower end of the Condition Census.
The surfaces are generously lustrous and frosty throughout, with just the slightest traces of friction across the most exposed regions. Uniform golden tones complement the exceptional preservation, delivering gorgeous eye appeal.
This important 1839-D half eagle will be featured in our June 2017 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore. To secure your copy of the catalog for this event or to consign to a future auction, contact our offices at 1-800-458-4646 or email [email protected].