Half Eagle Collecting by Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
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I’ve written before on collecting a seven-mint set of Liberty Head half eagles. In case you’ve forgotten, the Liberty Head half eagle is the only American coin to have been struck at all seven of the mints that produced vintage US designs. These are as follows:
- Carson City: 1870-1893
- Charlotte: 1839-1861
- Dahlonega: 1839-1861
- Denver: 1906-1907
- New Orleans: 1840-1909
- Philadelphia: 1839-1908
- San Francisco: 1854-1906
Unless you set ridiculously high standards (like all coins must grade MS65 and finer), this set isn’t especially hard to assemble.
How about bulking it up with some extra coins that fit the set perfectly but that also make the set more interesting?
For the Carson City issues, I’d suggest expanding by seeking to obtain one nice coin from each of the three decades these coins were produced. You’ll be looking at three coins; one each from the 1870s, the 1880s, and the 1890s. The first decade is challenging in AU55 and higher, and any Uncirculated CC half eagle from the 1870s is very rare. The 1880s date is reasonably easy to locate in circulated grades but challenging in Uncirculated. The 1890s date should be available in grades up through MS64. Total coins: 3.
1839-C $5.00 PCGS AU50. Images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN)
The Charlotte issues consist of three types: Obverse mintmark (1839 only), Reverse mintmark with Small Letters (1840-1843), and Reverse mintmark with Large Letters (1844-1861). The 1839-C is extremely scarce in Uncirculated but a nice AU coin should be available. The other two types are more common in higher grades and are pretty affordable in EF and AU. Total coins: 3.
1839-D $5.00 PCGS AU55 CAC
The Dahlonega issues consist of the same three types except that the Small Letters reverse was used only through 1842. The one-year obverse mintmark type is rare in Uncirculated, while the Small Letters reverse is challenging to locate in MS60 or finer. With some patience, nice examples of all three designs should be available. Total coins: 3.
1906-D $5.00 PCGS MS66+ CAC
I’d stick with the one issue from Denver and would probably choose the 1906-D over the 1907-D given its status as the first-year-of-type. Total coins: 1.
1840-O $5.00 PCGS MS62
The New Orleans issues consist of three types: No Motto with Small Letters reverse (1840-1843), No Motto with Large Letters reverse (1843-1857), and With Motto (1892-1894). All three of these types are available in Uncirculated although the No Motto Small Letters design is very challenging in higher grades. Total coins: 3.
1839 $5.00 PCGS MS63 CAC
The Philadelphia issues consist of four types: First Liberty Head (1839), Second Liberty Head with Small Reverse Letters (1840-1842), Second Liberty Head with Large Reverse Letters (1842-1865), and the With Motto type (1866-1908). Note that the first three designs are the No Motto type. You’ve got tremendous flexibility with these four issues as dates range from extremely common to very rare. Total coins: 4.
1866-S NO MOTTO $5.00 PCGS AU50 CAC
Finally, the San Francisco issues consist of two types: No Motto (1854-1866) and With Motto (1866-1906). An interesting transitional pair exists for 1866-S as both the No Motto and With Motto designs are seen in this year. The No Motto issues are quite rare in Uncirculated, while most of the post-1878 With Motto half eagles from San Francisco are common in higher grades. Total coins: 2.
1866-S WITH MOTTO $5.00 PCGS AU55 CAC
This set consists of 19 Liberty Head half eagles and it can be assembled on the cheap (for around $25,000 USD) or with Condition Census or Finest Known coins for a high six-figure amount.
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About Doug Winter
Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.
Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues
In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
- Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
- Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
- Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
- The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
- Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
- An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
- The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
- A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
- The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
- Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis
Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.