Valentine Plate 1802 Half Dime Offered in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Spring 2024 Rarities Night Auction

Any 1802 half dime is a significant rarity. Surpassed as a key date only by the unique 1870-S, few 1802 half dimes were struck, and they circulated fairly heavily in the early 19th century, making examples with eye appeal great rarities. Stack’s Bowers Galleries has the pleasure of offering one of the finest-known examples of this famous date as lot 4064 in our Spring 2024 Rarities Night session. This piece served as the plate coin in David Valentine’s 1931 half dime monograph, the standard reference work on the series for almost seven decades. The coin is graded AU-50 by PCGS and has received Collectible Market Qualified approval.  

Just over 3,000 half dimes were recorded delivered in 1802; a single obverse die was prepared, and a reverse die used in 1801 was reused. This same reverse die continued service into 1803.  

Numismatic interest in the date did not begin to materialize until the mid-19th century, which all but guaranteed that the tiny mintage entered circulation and were subjected to wear or destruction. David Davis, noted collector, researcher, and officer in the John Reich Collectors’ Society, pointed to the December 1859 Edward Cogan sale as the first auction appearance of this date and Harold Newlin devoted a large portion of his 1883 half dime monograph to the 1802. Many other numismatic writers and researchers have commented on and attested to the date’s rarity.

David Valentine’s 1931 monograph on half dimes used this coin to illustrate the date. It disappeared from public view thereafter, surfacing in what our cataloger describes as a “notable Virginia collection” in 1999. It’s journey via private transaction came to an end when it appeared at auction in 2006. Since then, it spent time in several other notable collections and last appeared in Part 1 of the Pogue Collection in 2015.  

Our cataloger states: “Only light wear is seen, and fine toning of violet-gray dominates both sides, with rich gold tracing the devices. Some light hairlines are noted under the toning, and a glass finds some minor evidence of handling. A short horizontal scratch is present low on Liberty’s jaw line, some shallow marks in the lower left obverse field, similarly shallow old worn scratches among the star and cloud cluster and above the eagle on the reverse. The strike is typical, a bit blunted on Liberty’s bust, soft on the lowest curls, somewhat ill-defined at the left side of the star cluster. The die state is also typical, with an unusual die crack above Liberty’s highest wave of hair to below the letter B in LIBERTY and a rim break above the letter E in UNITED. The grade and eye appeal, however, are entirely atypical.”

To view this and other lots in Rarities Night and bid, visit

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