1830 marked a period of a transition for the gold half eagle. With a Rush Muhlenberg coin press purchased and installed in 1827, the mint could reduce the diameter and raise the rims of the $5 gold coin, modifications that would lengthen its circulation life. We’re excited to be offering a numismatic artifact of that transition in our Spring 2023 Rarities Night Auction: a beautiful 1830 BD-1 gold half eagle in an NGC AU-53 holder.
The $5 gold coin was the largest denomination being struck in 1830. Eagles had been phased out in 1804, not to return for more than three decades, while double eagles would not be introduced until 1850. Its status as the highest denomination guaranteed that the half eagle would circulate, warranting modifications to make the coins hardier. The raising of the rims protected the design from the rigors of circulation, extending its life in commerce.
In 1829, the half eagle dies were reworked by engraver William Kneass, with the design remaining basically the same, but of a smaller diameter and with higher rims. A single obverse die and two reverse dies were used to strike 1830 coins. The reverse dies are differentiated most obviously by the size of the letter “D” in the denomination, “5D.” Both varieties are challenging, with BD-1 (featuring the “Large D” obverse) the scarcer of the two with 25 to 35 examples believed to survive.
Any offering of an 1830 half eagle is notable, while the appearance of the scarcer BD-1 marriage is all the more so. NGC’s Census reports 19 grading events for 1830 Capped Bust gold eagles, four which are specifically identified as BD-1. The example in our 2023 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo is a beautiful example, described by our cataloger as: “Bathed in rich orange-gold, the surfaces also reveal traces of warmer honey color and ample remnants of a prooflike finish from the fields, most pronounced in the protected areas around the design elements. While a bit lightly struck at isolated high points of the central devices and also on a few of the obverse stars, the overall definition is suitably bold at the assigned grade level. A touch of glossiness is noted for accuracy, but there are no sizable or otherwise singularly distracting marks. BD [Bass-Dannreuther] Die State a/b.”
For more information about consigning to our Spring 2023 Whitman Expo auction, visit StacksBowers.com, call 800-458-4646, or email [email protected].