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All Posts Tagged With: "Transitional Coins"

Transitional US Gold Coins

By Doug Winter –

Throughout the history of gold coin production in the United States there have been a number of instances where two different designs were produced simultaneously, or at least within the same year. I call these “transitional” coins and I think they would make for a very interesting collecting focus for the gold coin specialist.

In the gold dollar denomination, the most obvious transitional issue occurred in 1854 when both the Type I and the Type II issues were produced. Both of these are relatively common although the Type Two becomes scarce in the higher grades and rare in MS64 or better. In 1856 two designs were produced: the Type Two and the Type Three. Since the Type Two was only made in San Francisco this year and there are no 1856-S Type Three gold dollars this isn’t a transitional issue in the sense of the 1854.

There are some very interesting transitional issues in the quarter eagle denomination. In 1796 both No Stars and With Stars designs were produced. Both of these are rare in all grades and because of price constraints they would be considered one of the stoppers of a transitional set. The next transitional issue occurred in 1834 when both the Capped Bust and the Classic Head quarter eagles were struck at the Philadelphia mint. The former is an extremely rare coin in all grades while the latter is common in grades up to and including MS63.

More transitional issues exist in the early half eagles than in virtually all other denominations combined. The reason for these transitional issues tends to be different than, say, for the 1854 Type One and Type Two dollar when the design was changed to facilitate improved striking.

There are two types of half eagle dated 1795: the Small Eagle reverse and the Large Eagle reverse. The former was actually produced in 1795 and it is relatively common. The latter was struck in either 1797 or early 1798 using a backdated obverse die. Only 1,000 or so 1795 Large Eagle half eagles were made and this clearly would be one of the stoppers to a transitional set.

A similar circumstance exists with 1797 half eagles. Small Eagle reverse coins from this year are known with both fifteen and sixteen stars on the obverse. These are very rare but not impossible to locate. There are also 1797/5 half eagles with the Large Eagle reverse. These are extremely rare and include two die varieties that are presently unique and housed in the Smithsonian. (more…)