DESCRIPTION Prooflike Gem 1820 BD-7 Half Eagle
Rarity-7, None Finer for the VarietyMS-65+ (PCGS) CAC
The Wolfson-Pogue Specimen1820 Capped Head Left Half Eagle. Bass Dannreuther-7. Rarity-7. Curl Base 2, Large Letters. MS-65+ (PCGS). CAC.
This stunning piece displays an intense combination of satiny luster and fully prooflike fields. Even medium yellow gold color yields to deeper yellow amidst the frosty arcs at the rims, an ideal and beautiful pairing. There are only a very few of the most minor contacts, none significant and very few even visible to the naked eye. A little mark below the wing at left, far beneath T of UNITED, is perhaps the most serious. The letters of LIBERTY are about half polished out, reflective at the tops of LIBERT, somewhat frosty and textured at the bases of those letters. The presence of a tiny eruption of die spalling off of Liberty's forecurl places this in order as Bass-Dannreuther state b/c. The visual appeal is spectacular, and this coin is capable of amazing even the most cynical of numismatists.
Specks of transparent lacquer or glue are noted beneath the lower left serif of D in the denomination, above the crown of the eagle's head, and outside the left upright of the first A in AMERICA. On the obverse, they appear outside the lower left point of star 5 and on either side of star 9. Seemingly identical specks appear on the Gem Mickley-Appleton-Garrett-Pogue 1819 half eagle. While this piece is not from the Garrett Collection, it could have been among the Mickley coins later acquired by William Sumner Appleton; the presence of identical detritus may suggest an identical provenance.PCGS has assigned an 1820 half eagle a grade of MS-65 or finer on just eight occasions. Among Curl Base 2, Small Letters coins, only a single example has been graded finer. Within the elusive BD-7 die marriage, this coin is tied as the finest known with the Einstein specimen, making it an irresistible offering for the most advanced specialists.
Nine die marriages of 1820 half eagles are known, of which three are Curl Base 2 obverse, Large Letters reverse combinations. All three of these are rare. BD-5 is perhaps the most commonly encountered, with a population estimated at 20 to 25 pieces. BD-7 appears to have a population of six coins, as listed below. BD-9 may be the rarest of the varieties, with a population estimated in the Bass-Dannreuther book at four to six coins.
We count six distinct specimens of this BD-7 die marriage. Aside from the Norweb-Bass Proof, each has been described as Gem in previous appearances. Among circulation strikes of this variety, three of the above listed specimens are frosty; the other two (this coin and the James A. Stack coin) are deeply prooflike.
Ex Harry Bass Core Collection. Graded Proof-63 in the 1987 Norweb sale. Earlier from the 1912 George H. Earle, Jr. and 1956 Thomas G. Melish sales. Impounded in the American Numismatic Association Museum. Described by John Dannreuther as "the earliest half eagle known in Proof!"
2.MS-65+ (PCGS) CAC. The present specimen
, from the 1962 Samuel W. Wolfson sale and our March 2020 sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part VII, lot 7333.
3.MS-65+ (PCGS) CAC.
Ex Bowers and Merena's sale of the Harry Einstein Collection, June 1986, lot 344; Heritage's sale of April 2008, lot 2435; our March 2020 sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, lot 7332.
The Bass duplicate, sold in Bass II as lot 814, graded MS-65 (PCGS). Reoffered in the Superior Galleries sale of February 2001 as lot 4580 and the American Numismatic Rarities of August 2004 as lot 1009.
5.Gem Mint State.
The James A. Stack specimen, offered in the October 1994 James A. Stack sale as lot 1068.
6.Gem Mint State.
The John A. Beck specimen, sold as lot 403 in the January 1975 Beck I sale by Abner Kreisberg.PCGS# 519926. http://www.pcgscoinfacts.com/Coin/Detail/519926
PCGS Population: 2, 1 finer (MS-66). (1820 Curl Base 2, Large Letters)Ex the Samuel W. Wolfson Collection; our (Stack's) sale of the Samuel W. Wolfson Collection, Part I, October 1962, lot 363; Julian Leidman; Paramount (David Akers), by sale, August 1984, our sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part III, February 2016, lot 3157; our sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part VII, March 2020 lot 7333.