The 1827 Capped Head Left half eagle claims a mintage of 24,913 pieces, with just a single variety known for the date. This was the only use of the obverse die, but the reverse was used to strike the extremely rare BD-2 variety of 1826 and the very rare BD-1 1828/7 variety as well.
The surviving population of this issue is a matter of some dispute. Earlier catalogers, like Henry Chapman and B. Max Mehl, believed only eight to 10 specimens were extant. Walter Breen expanded this estimate to 12-15 pieces in all grades in 1987. David Akers guessed there were “at most 20” examples surviving. Recently, PCGS Coinfacts estimated “about 30” and the Bass-Dannreuther reference postulates 35-45 specimens are known.
PCGS and NGC have combined to certify 34 different coins, including an unknown number of crossovers and resubmissions.
To help clear up the confusion, we have compiled a roster of extant coins, expanded from notes by Saul Teichman and our own Auction Archives. It is possible that some duplication has occurred and it may be that a few specimens are currently held in long term collections and may not be represented in our survey. Still, our research has been quite extensive, and we doubt that more than a few pieces have escaped our notice. We have isolated 16 different coins–three of them impounded in institutional collections–and a number of earlier citations that may or may not be duplicate appearances of the coins in the roster. From this, it seems that the 1827 half eagle is much rarer than most present-day researchers believe, and the surviving population is actually more in line with Akers’ “at most 20” estimate of 30 years ago.
Our January 8-13 FUN Signature Auction features a delightful PCGS-graded MS64+ example with sharply detailed design elements in most areas and just a touch of softness on Liberty’s highest curls and the eagle’s claws. The well-preserved orange and olive-gold surfaces show only minor signs of contact. A tiny color spot at star 10 can serve as a pedigree marker. The opportunity to acquire such an attractive example of this celebrated rarity may not recur for years.