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Stacks to offer Amazingly Original 1860-D Half Eagle Gold Coin.

Recently CoinLink has been running a number of articles centered around both the concept and desirability of “Origianl Surfaces” on coins.

In the upcoming Stacks Americana Sale this week, there is a perfect example of the type of coin we have been talking about, Lot 3534 : an 1860-D Half Eagle PCGS MS-63. Below is the Lot description and history of the coin from The Stacks Catelog.

A sparkling condition rarity, and a beautiful coin, one of 10 pieces obtained at the Dahlonega Mint in 1860 in exchange for gold bullion and scrap and retained in the family ever since. Deep honey gold glistens with rich lustre, and the somewhat reflective fields glow with lively olive iridescence.

New to the numismatic marketplace after 150 years with fresh “skin” and natural color as yet untouched by today’s coin doctors!

No serious marks are present, though we note a few tiny disturbances; this piece was kept over the decades in a sock, of all places, along with several other coins—frankly, we’re surprised and pleased to report that this coin weathered its mixed company and awkward storage method admirably.

The strike is somewhat typical for the date, with some lightness of design at Liberty’s hair and the eagle’s neck feathers on the reverse. Douglas Winter’s reference on Dahlonega gold notes the following regarding this date: “The 1860-D half eagle is a relatively obtainable coin which is most often seen in Extremely Fine grades. It is more available in the lower About Uncirculated grades than its small mintage figure would suggest. It becomes rare in the higher AU grades and it is extremely rare in full Mint State.”

According to the current (11-’09) PCGS online Population Report, the present piece is the only MS-63 example of the date certified thus far, with but a solitary MS-64 piece the only finer example of the date recognized by that firm.

We note that NGC has not certified an MS-63 1860-D half eagle, though they do note a single MS-64 example of the date in their online Census. If you are one to put stock in individual population reports, this equates to the present piece being the third finest certified example of the date in a third-party grading service holder.

It is worth noting here that the finest of the four Harry W. Bass, Jr. specimens of the date offered in B&M’s sale of October 1999 was graded MS-62 (PCGS) and was the Farouk-Norweb specimen; the present coin outshines that piece in all regards. Not only is the present 1860-D half eagle one of the finest survivors from its mintage of 14,635 pieces, but it is a coin with a uniquely American story to tell:

The consignor’s forebears were originally from North Carolina, where they had settled in the mid to late 1700s.

In 1832 the state of Georgia held its infamous Cherokee Land Lottery, an event which effectively stole the native lands of the Cherokee tribes and forced them westward on the long troubled journey known to today’s historians as the “Trail of Tears.” This forced march relocated the Cherokee and others, most notably the Creek nation, to Oklahoma and other western prairie areas, freeing the tribal lands for encroachment by the ever-westward expanding population of non-indigenous Americans.

The consignor’s forebears were extraordinarily lucky in the Cherokee Lottery, being awarded large tracts of land in the Dahlonega region, some of which is still in family hands today; the family emigrated from North Carolina to the gold field regions of Georgia as a result.

The consignor’s great grandfather (several times removed) was a merchant in the region who no doubt did a sound business with miners and settlers in the area. Family history has it that in early 1860 the ancestor in question brought a small load of gold, mostly ore and scrap taken in across the counter in his everyday business activities, to the Dahlonega Mint and exchanged it for 10 fresh, Mint State 1860-D half eagles.

Over the course of the ensuing 150 years, all but three of the original 10 pieces have been lost to time and the elements. The three examples accounted for today include a holed specimen that is worn to this day as jewelry, and another specimen that is well-worn from many years as a pocket piece. The third piece, the spectacular MS-63 example offered here, represents the apex of condition of the three pieces still in family hands.

PCGS Population: 1; 1 finer (MS-64).

Received at the Dahlonega Mint in 1860, along with nine other specimens, in exchange for mined gold and scrap.

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