A substantial mintage for the time of 53,176 Capped Bust Right half eagles occurred in 1802, all using leftover obverse dies from the previous year that have a 2 punched over the final digit in the date. Eight die varieties are known for the date.
In our current March 14-16 Dallas Signature Auction we are offering an example of the BD-8 variety, with the 2 touching the bust, perfect T’s in the reverse legend, and the final S in STATES over the far right of a cloud.
The BD-8 is a relatively available variety in the context of the series, with a surviving population of 150-200 examples in all grades. The BD-8 probably accounted for 10 to 15 thousand examples of the reported mintage. The obverse die was used previously to strike the BD-6 and BD-7 varieties of this date, but this was the only use of the reverse die. It is possible that there was a remarriage of these dies, with some late die state examples of BD-7 struck between the two pairings.
Collectors have prized the early half eagles since the earliest days of the hobby and the 1802/1 began appearing at auction at least as early as lot 176 of the A.C. Kline Sale (M. Thomas & Sons, 6/1855), although the lot description did not mention the overdate. By the mid-1860s, catalogers began taking note of this feature, as W. Elliot Woodward described the coin in lot 2755 of his Sixth Semi-Annual Sale as “1802 over 1801; uncirculated, as fine as proof; scarce.” The lot was purchased by Thomas Cleneay for $9, a strong price at the time.
This coin, graded MS64+ by PCGS, exhibits sharply detailed design elements and dramatic clash marks in the fields on both sides. The well-preserved antique-gold surfaces radiate vibrant mint luster, with outstanding eye appeal. This coin represents an exceptional balance of quality and value, since 1802/1 half eagles are rare in gem grades, with an MS65 example having sold for as much as $138,000 USD in a recent Heritage auction.