The Capped Bust Left half eagle type is very popular with collectors and, of the early gold types, is the most affordable and obtainable. There are rare and scarce die varieties, but as a type, these are generally available in most grades through AU. Truly Mint State examples, like this NGC-graded MS-62 specimen are scarce.
In 1808, there were four die pairings used, two of which show the 8 punched over a previous 7 from leftover dies from 1807. In the early days of the U.S. Mint, die steel was scarce, and so dies were repaired and re-engraved for use until they completely fell apart. Of the two overdate varieties, the obverse of BD-1 cracked early on, and was taken out of service after striking an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 pieces (per the Bass-Dannreuther reference). Today, approximately 20 to 30 are known and the variety is given a full Rarity-6 rating. The one “Normal Date” variety, BD-3, as seen here is the second most commonly seen variety of the year, considered to be a Rarity-4, with roughly 100 to 125 examples known.
In our current iAuction we offer an example from the terminal die state listed for the reverse, described as: Reverse State e, believed terminal, reclashed, now with crack from last A of AMERICA through denomination (later states may exist, but the only example observed is Nebraska III:1440 conducted by R.M. Smythe). The reverse die cracks are bold and interesting to view. It is unlikely that many examples were struck with the dies so severely broken. The Nebraska III example was graded AU-53 by PCGS and sold in May 2000.
The MS-62 (NGC) 1808 half eagle featured in our iAuction displays soft satin luster with only minor ticks and lines that account for the assigned NGC grade. Well struck (as is the norm); the interesting die state characteristics that are as made, including die clashing and die cracks, make for an interesting piece for the specialist to study.
Be sure to review this, and all the other wonderful coins being offered in iAuction 3522 at StacksBowers.com. The current iAuction also includes world and ancient coins, as well as our usual U.S. coins.