GreatCollections is offering the second-finest known example of the 1860-S Liberty Gold Half Eagle for sale in their upcoming auction. Graded as MS 61 with a green CAC sticker, the coin is placed in a Gold Shield PCGS holder. At the time of publication, the lot has 58 bids, with the current high bid of $46,000 (USD) already higher than the PCGS Price Guide estimate. Interested bidders should note that four days remain in the auction that closes on Sunday, March 13, 6:58:08 PM Pacific Time (9:58 Eastern).
First struck by the San Francisco Mint in 1854, the 1860-S “No Motto” Liberty Head Half Eagle has the fifth-largest mintage of all 13 years before the national motto “In God We trust” was added in 1866. Despite having a relatively large mintage of 21,200 pieces (the highest of all mints in 1866), with an estimated total survival rate of just 50 pieces, this coin has become quite rare. This is not unusual for gold coins struck at branch mints in the 19th century.
Only adding to the importance of this particular coin is the conditional rarity of the type. Only two known and graded specimens exist in MS-60 or better: one in MS-61 (this coin) and one in MS-62. Such high-grade examples have a rarity score of R10. Since most if not all examples of this coin were entered into circulation, it is common for them to show varying levels of wear. Noted numismatist David Akers asserts that for most remaining examples “VF should be considered typical” (PGGS, 2022). As such, it is quite unusual for such a coin to come to the market.
In fact, there are no historical auction records for this specific coin, and the last time the MS-62 example came to market was in 1999 when it sold for $27,600 in a Bowers & Merena auction. It is even unusual for an example graded AU to hit the market, with the last auction record for an MS-58 from 2019.
Liberty Head Half Eagle Design
Redesigned in 1839, the main differences between the new Gobrecht Liberty Head and William Kneass’s Classic Head half eagle can be seen on the obverse. Gobrecht retained the 13 six-pointed stars ringing the obverse field, the date (1860) at the bottom, and the denticled edge. Lady Liberty was redesigned into a younger-looking bust. In this design, Lady Liberty’s hair is styled in a bun that is kept in place by a beaded thread. Her bangs curl to the back, with several locks of hair hanging down her neck. Additionally, Liberty’s tiara was made slightly more pronounced.
The reverse design was changed in only one place, the denomination. Previously labeled “5 D.”, the denomination was now spelled out as “FIVE D.”. The American heraldic eagle, with its customary arrows and olive branches, remained central to the reverse design. The shield decorated with 12 vertical bars and seven horizontal stripes is placed directly in front of the eagles’ chest feathers. The eagles’ wings interrupt the legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and almost touch the denticled boarder. The denomination, at the bottom of the design, is separated from the legend by two centering dots. Struck at the San Francisco Mint, this coin bears the “S” mintmark between the eagle’s claws and the denomination. Interestingly, the Liberty Head Half Eagle is the only United States gold coin struck at seven different branch mints.
The edge of the 1860-S Liberty Head Half Eagle is reeded.
As mentioned above, the top bid in the GC auction is $46,000 (USD) at the time of publication. 58 bids have been recorded, and the page has been viewed 437 times. To search through GreatCollection’s archive of over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past eight years, please visit the GreatCollections Auction Archives.