Famous 1802 Half Dime Rarity Looks to Steal the Show At Our February 2014 New York City Americana Sale

Whenever great U.S. coin rarities are discussed, talk eventually turns to the 1802 half dime, one of the greatest silver rarities of all. As early as 1863 this little half dime has been recognized for the rarity it is. In 1863 the Lilliendahl specimen was sold by Harold P. Newlin for $340, a lordly sum in the Civil War era, and a price that was 6,800 times face value! That specimen was one of just three known at the time. As a comparison, we note a 1794 dollar, one of the finest known at the time of its sale in 1863, realized just $285.

The S. Vogel-J.H. Smith specimen we will offer in February has a special pedigree. It was found in a leather pouch along with other coins that had been put aside decades earlier than its late 1970s “discovery” by a Maryland farmer. The coin was first authenticated by Charles Hoskins, and later by PCGS. The farmer had no recollection of when the piece was first purchased — he suggested it was just one of many articles family members had purchased over the years from local auctions and sales, and may have been in the family for the better part of a century.

The PCGS-certified VG-8 specimen we offer is about par for the date. Only about 30 or so examples exist in all grades, with many of the known specimens enduring surface problems and marks. The J.H. Smith specimen, faintly scratched as it is, is still a coin to be reckoned with, and its value and rarity cannot be understated. That all known specimens are worn to some degree suggests that the 3,060 examples of the date reportedly struck all were pressed into commerce, where they stayed for many decades.

Our consignor was wise enough to obtain this 1802 half dime when the opportunity presented itself, knowing full well that waiting for a finer example could take the better part of a lifetime. Many great collections, even specialized half dime cabinets, often lack a single date for completeness — that date is 1802. Indeed, the 1802 half dime is listed as coin #61 in the reference 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, and its fame is readily equal to its rarity.

Only on rare occasions does an 1802 half dime come to public auction, and no matter the grade, all eyes in the room are riveted to the podium to see just where the bidding will top out for this tiny silver rarity. We predict the Vogel-Smith 1802 half dime will perform admirably in this currently red-hot numismatic marketplace. Bid as though you mean it, for you won’t have many more such opportunities in your lifetime.

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