Mint State 1797/5 Half Eagle Rarity to be Featured in our Spring 2019 Baltimore Auction

Our Spring 2019 Baltimore Auction, taking place from February 27 through March 5, is highlighted by an exceptional group of early half eagles from the Capped Bust Right series. Among the most impressive is an incredible 1797/5 BD-7, certified MS-61 (NGC) and assigned a Rarity-6+ rating. The overdate seen on this variety is one of the boldest in the entire realm of American coinage, easily as plain as the 1942/1-D dime, 1918/7-D nickel, 1918/7-S quarter, and other well-known overdates. The 5 underdigit has not been effaced at all, though the flag of the 7 lines up precisely enough with the flag of the 5 somewhat masking it. It is well struck with bold definition to all but Liberty’s central curls, which are a trifle soft as is typical. The reverse is a delight to study, with considerable mirror finish in the field illustrating a complex network of die cracks. Struck on a bright yellow gold planchet with a dash of deeper orange-gold on Liberty’s uppermost curls, more uniformly bright and reflective on the reverse. Smooth and pleasing surfaces overall. A representative of BD Die State b/d, where the obverse die was lapped prior to striking this coin, with no further signs of clashing or cracks. The reverse was shattered yet retained the ability to strike up the devices rather well.

Three die varieties of 1797 half eagle are known with the Heraldic Eagle reverse, and the BD-7 is the only one that is not unique. The single specimens of the other two varieties are both in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution.

Of the 500 to 1,000 coins struck from these dies just 15 to 20 survive. David Akers posited that 12 to 15 specimens were known when writing in 1988, while Dannreuther suggested 16 to 20 in 2006. This example ranks among the very finest known, ranked behind only the MS-62+ (PCGS) Carter-Pogue specimen and numerically tied with the MS-61 (NGC) Hilt example and the MS-61 (PCGS) coin in Superior’s sale of August 2004, lot 978. To date, both NGC and PCGS record only 10 grading events for this rare issue between the two services, with some duplication likely in those numbers. The 1797/5 $5, BD-7 is one of the most challenging issues for a specialist to obtain, and the present example is one of the most desirable specimens extant.

This MS-61 (NGC) example is a significant highlight of our Official Auction of the 2019 Whitman Coin and Collectibles Spring Expo and we expect strong interest from advanced collectors of this series. The sale will be available for viewing and bidding on our website, or you may contact our offices to secure a printed catalog. To speak with a numismatic representative, please call 800-458-4646 or email Also, download our mobile app to view and participate in our auctions via your Android or Apple device.

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