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Classic US Gold Coins – So You’ve Decided to Collect (a Set of) Dahlonega Half Eagles…

Dahlonega Half Eagles

Dahlonega Half Eagles

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……

CoinWeek Content material Companion ……
Of the 4 denominations struck on the Dahlonega Mint, half eagles are the most important in measurement and have (by far) probably the most struck, each when it comes to particular person dates and complete produced. This denomination was made out of 1838 via 1861, and there have been a complete of 26 points.

1838-D $5.00 NGC MS62 CAC. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1838-D $5.00 NGC MS62 CAC. All pictures courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics

This set lends itself properly to specialised accumulating. Whereas there are a couple of costly single points, there’s nothing impossibly uncommon or high-priced. A lot of the cash may be situated with out too nice an effort however finding the fitting coin might be surprisingly troublesome, even for the so-called widespread dates. And if the collector actually falls onerous for this set, there are quite a few die varieties (starting from the mundane to the numerous) that would hold the set going indefinitely.

There are a minimum of 4 totally different design varieties of half eagles from Dahlonega and these are as follows:

  1. Classic Head: 1838 solely
  2. First Liberty Head (obverse mintmark): 1839 solely
  3. Second Liberty Head (reverse mintmark), Small Letters: 1840-1842
  4. Second Liberty Head (reverse mintmark), Giant Letters: 1842-1861

On this article, I’m going to give attention to three totally different tiers of Dahlonega half eagle set amassing. I’m going to outline them as Common, Spiffy, and Additional-Spiffy. I’ll talk about which dates are probably the most difficult to find, what you’ll be able to anticipate to spend, and the way lengthy and the way practical the set-building course of will probably be.

1843-D $5.00 PCGS VF35 CAC. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1843-D $5.00 PCGS VF35 CAC

The Common Set

The common set of Dahlonega half eagles is predicated round good, reasonably priced cash which are principally going to grade VF and EF, with a couple of AUs sprinkled in. The cash will sometimes value within the $2,00Zero-Three,00Zero vary, with a number of $5,00Zero-6,00Zero items. A set like this will’t fairly be full because the 1861-D might be a budget-buster. The opposite 25 dates must be obtainable, though three or 4 might be very troublesome to discover each reasonably priced and cosmetically interesting.

Simply since you don’t have an extra-spiffy finances, this doesn’t imply which you can’t be a finicky purchaser. Within the $2,00Zero-Three,00Zero vary, you’ll be able to anticipate some very healthful cash with good pure colour and trustworthy, even put on.

1848-D $5.00 PCGS EF40, CAC GOLD STICKER. Images courtesy Doug Winter


There are a minimum of 15 (if no more) dates that one can realistically to find in VF or EF grades at lower than $Three,00Zero. These are the 1842-D Small Date, 1843-D, 1844-D, 1845-D, 1846-D/D, 1847-D, 1849-D, 1851-D, 1852-D, 1853-D, 1854-D, 1855-D, 1857-D, 1858-D, 1859-D, and 1860-D.

There’s one other group of dates that gained’t be far more costly (let’s say $four,00Zero or much less) however which shall be more durable to discover. These are the 1840-D, 1841-D, 1846-D, 1848-D, 1850-D, and the 1856-D.

Two extra dates are reasonable for this set however would require a price range nearer to $7,500 every for a pleasant VF or a lower-end EF; these are the favored 1838-D and 1839-D.

1842-D LARGE DATE $5.00 PCGS VF35 CAC. Images courtesy Doug Winter


This leaves us with two remaining cash: the 1842-D Giant Date and the 1861-D. In the event you can stretch to round $9,00Zero-10,00Zero, it is possible for you to to purchase a presentable instance of the previous. There are only a few good collector-grade items recognized, so I might recommend a fast response for those who ever have the prospect to purchase one you want at a quantity you’ll be able to stay with.

And what concerning the 1861-D? This has turn out to be an costly difficulty and the one one you’re probably to discover within the $10,00Zero++ vary is both broken or a really worn piece that has been harshly cleaned. I might strongly recommend you move on such a coin as your cash can be higher spent on extra widespread points in your most popular worth vary.

Listed here are a couple of shopping for ideas that may be utilized simply as simply to a $2,00Zero D-mint half eagle as they will to a $20,00Zero instance:

  • Determine on a “look” which appeals to you and check out to stick with it. As you’ll be able to think about, I like cash that are properly toned and as unique as potential.
  • In lots of instances, a very nice EF45 is usually a higher addition to your set than a so-so AU53. This additionally holds true for higher-grade cash (say, a very nice AU58 versus a marginal MS62).
  • A set containing all (or almost all) CAC-approved cash on this worth vary just isn’t out of the query. Don’t overspend for a lower-grade widespread date coin with a CAC sticker as this doesn’t benefit the additional dollars. However paying, say, a further $250-500 for a very cherry EF with a sticker makes plenty of sense to me.
  • Study which dates are discovered with which shade(s) and which dates come weakly struck. Purchase a replica of the third version of my Dahlonega ebook and study concerning the traits of every problem.

A pleasant set utilizing grades mentioned above could be assembled for $75,00Zero-90,00Zero. This gained’t embrace an 1861-D however it should include 25 cash within the VF25 to AU50 vary with most cash grading EF.

The Spiffy Set

The so-called Spiffy Set of Dahlonega half eagles goes to be of upper high quality than the set we simply mentioned above, nevertheless it nonetheless isn’t out of attain for all however the wealthiest collectors. This set goes to function principally Selection AU cash (within the AU55 to AU58 vary) with a couple of lower-end Uncirculated items (MS61 to MS62) sprinkled in. The 2 exceptions are doubtless to be the 1842-D Giant Date, which can in all probability be within the decrease vary of AU, and the 1861-D, which is extra doubtless to be an EF45 or probably an AU50.

The extra widespread date Dahlonega half eagles are nonetheless remarkably reasonably priced given their shortage and recognition. A pleasant AU55 can typically be discovered for lower than $5,00Zero, whereas a high-end AU58 is usually obtainable for $7,500 or much less.

1853-D $5.00 NGC AU55 CAC. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1853-D $5.00 NGC AU55 CAC

One factor that CAC has confirmed (though I’ve been writing about this for years) is that even the most typical date Dahlonega half eagles (points such because the 1843-D via 1845-D, and the 1852-D by means of 1854-D) are actually arduous to find in PCGS/CAC AU55 to AU58. For instance, the quite common 1843-D has a CAC inhabitants of simply two cash in AU55 and one in AU58, whereas the 1853-D is extra obtainable however nonetheless has small populations of 5 in AU55 and 9 in AU58. These populations are probably even smaller when one elements in resubmissions and CAC cash which are good however not likely good.

1851-D $5.00 PCGS AU53 CAC. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1851-D $5.00 PCGS AU53 CAC

The dates that can be harder to find within the AU55 to AU58 vary (even with out CAC approval) embrace the 1840-D, 1841-D, 1846-D, 1848-D, 1851-D, 1855-D, and 1856-D. However don’t let me discourage you as these cash do exist, and when very nice AUs turn into out there you gained’t have to pay loopy premiums.

So… the excellent news is that 22 of the 26 dates on this collection are doubtless obtainable at $7,500 or much less for good AUs, and in case you are working with a very good supplier you need to be in a position to find most or all of those in a three-to-five-year interval. The dangerous information is that you’re left with 4 cash that are both costlier or a lot more durable to discover.

1839-D $5.00 PCGS AU55 CAC. Image courtesy Doug Winter

1839-D $5.00 PCGS AU55 CAC

Good 1838-D half eagles are simpler to find than one may anticipate. There are 5 with CAC approval in grades between AU55 and AU58, and there are probably this many (or a number of extra) that aren’t CAC-approved however which might cross my high quality check. The 1839-D is analogous in excessive(er) grade rarity with 5 accepted at CAC in grades between AU55 and AU58. You’ll have to spend no less than $15,00Zero-20,00Zero for every of those.

1842-D LARGE DATE $5.00 PCGS AU55 CAC. Image courtesy Doug Winter


The 1842-D Giant Date is the rarest difficulty within the collection in larger grades. Solely three have been accredited by CAC in AU (I’ve dealt with all three) and none are finer than AU55. As there are none with CAC approval in any EF grade, you’ll both have to be affected person or anticipate a pleasant non-CAC piece to come out there. Regardless of this coin’s rarity, I’ve bought two very good PCGS/CAC AU55s within the excessive 10s/low 20s.

1861-D $5.00 PCGS AU53. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1861-D $5.00 PCGS AU53

Which brings us to the 1861-D. Between the EF45 and AU58 bookend grades, there are literally six with CAC approval. A correctly graded EF might be very onerous to find as most 45s have gradeflated into AU50 or AU53 holders. You possibly can determine on spending a minimum of $50,00Zero for a very nice 1861-D.

The whole expenditure for a Spiffy Set of Dahlonega half eagles goes to run round $250,00Zero-275,00Zero. You’ll be able to scale back this determine by perhaps 10-15% by sticking with AU55s on a lot of the widespread dates, however my guess is that when you’ve purchased a couple of good AU58s, you’ll favor this high quality when it’s obtainable.

The Additional Spiffy Set

Let’s say you get the Dahlonega bug in a critical approach and you’ve got the price range to scratch your itch. Is a world-class assortment even possible in in the present day’s market and, in that case, how would a collector of means go about this?

1855-D $5.00 NGC MS61. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1855-D $5.00 NGC MS61

Each Dahlonega half eagle is understood to exist in Uncirculated. The rarest points in very excessive grades (MS60 and finer) are the 1842-D Giant Date, with maybe three or so recognized, and the 1850-D, 1851-D, and 1855-D with fewer than 5 or 6 presently accounted for. The costliest coin within the set goes to be the long-lasting 1861-D, however this difficulty is extra obtainable in Uncirculated than most collectors understand with as many as 10-12 recognized.

There are primarily two methods to go about constructing an Additional Spiffy set of Dahlonega half eagles. The primary is to cost into the market just like the proverbial bull within the china store and to vacuum up all of the overgraded MS61 and MS62 items which have lingered in vendor’s inventories.

The second is to quietly strategy the gathering, to study as a lot as attainable about every problem, and to pounce on the uncommon items that are appropriate for a very high-end assortment. You’ve, little question, already discerned which strategy I favor.

1853-D $5.00 NGC MS63. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1853-D $5.00 NGC MS63

There isn’t any such factor as a “common date” Dahlonega half eagle in correctly graded MS60 or finer. Even the extra obtainable dates such because the 1853-D and the 1854-D turn out to be very troublesome to find in MS62, and each D-mint half eagle could be very uncommon in correctly graded MS63 and above.

Might a Mint State set of all CAC-Dahlonega half eagles be assembled? The reply is a powerful no as the next dates have nonetheless not been stickered by CAC in any Uncirculated grade: 1842-D Giant Date, 1850-D, 1851-D, 1855-D, and 1856-D. This doesn’t even take into accounts that at the very least eight different dates have Uncirculated CAC populations of only one or two.

1856-D $5.00 PCGS MS62. Images courtesy Doug Winter

1856-D $5.00 PCGS MS62

If a savvy collector is prepared to embrace some very good however not fairly CAC-quality cash, the power to full this set turns into much more lifelike. I’ve seen (and bought) quite a few virtually there Uncirculated Dahlonega half eagles that may be good sufficient for completely any set.

As you may need guessed, constructing an incredible Dahlonega half eagle set isn’t straightforward, and it’s definitely not low cost. We’re taking a look at round 20 cash with a mean value of round $25,00Zero++, and one other 4 cash that may run round $40,00Zero-50,00Zero every. This leaves us with the 1842-D Giant Date which we’ll determine at $25,00Zero, and the 1861-D which we’ll value in at $100,00Zero. That places the price at round $825,00Zero, and this quantity will in all probability prime $1 million when all is claimed and executed.

Listed here are some shopping for ideas and observations geared in the direction of high-grade Dahlonega half eagles:

  • It is necessary to study the distinction between actual luster and brightness, which is created by rubbing the surfaces with abrasives to simulate luster. My ebook discusses floor textures for each difficulty from this mint.
  • It’s also essential to study to distinguish between unique shade and added shade. Some slabbed Dahlonega half eagles in comparatively excessive grades present blatantly pretend colour and these must be prevented.
  • Present third-party grading is oriented in the direction of eye attraction. Which means most cash in MS60 and MS61 (and even many in MS62) present friction on the excessive spots and within the left obverse subject (probably the most open space of the Liberty Head half eagle design). In the event you can’t stay with this, I recommend both shopping for good AU55 and AU58 cash or, if attainable, sticking with MS63 and finer cash if and when they’re out there.
  • As a rule, Dahlonega half eagles are much better made than their gold greenback and quarter eagle cousins. There are a couple of points within the half eagle collection (1848-D, 1851-D, 1855-D and 1856-D) which may be troublesome to find nicely struck however in most situations it ought to be potential to purchase a decently struck coin on a pleasant high quality planchet.

Are you interested by assembling an ideal high quality set of Dahlonega half eagles? Why not work with the world’s main professional Doug Winter; actually “the man who wrote the book?” Contact Doug by e-mail at dwn@ont.com to start your assortment!

Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins

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About Doug Winter

Doug_Winter2Doug has spent a lot of his life within the area of numismatics; starting amassing cash on the age of seven, and by the point he was 10 years previous, shopping for and promoting cash at conventions within the New York Metropolis space.

In 1989, he based Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his agency focuses on shopping for and promoting selection and uncommon United States cash, particularly US gold cash and all department mint materials.

Acknowledged as one of many main specialised numismatic companies, Doug is an award profitable writer of over a dozen numismatic books and the acknowledged professional on US Gold. His information and distinctive eye for correctly graded and unique cash has made him probably the most revered figures within the numismatic group and a wanted supplier by collectors and buyers on the lookout for skilled personalised service, a choose stock of impeccable high quality and truthful and trustworthy pricing. Doug can also be a serious purchaser of all US cash and is all the time wanting to buy collections each giant and small. He might be reached at (214) 675-9897.

Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also called the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Sample and Associated Points

As well as he has authored 13 books on US Gold cash together with:
  • Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
  • Gold Coins of the Carson Metropolis Mint: 1870 – 1893
  • Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
  • The USA $Three Gold Items 1854-1889
  • Carson Metropolis Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Situation Census Replace
  • An Insider’s Information to Amassing Sort One Double Eagles
  • The Connoisseur’s Information to United States Gold Coins
  • A Collector’s Information To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
  • The Acadiana Assortment of New Orleans Coinage
  • Sort Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic Historical past and Evaluation
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic Historical past and Evaluation
  • Sort Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic Historical past and Evaluation

Lastly Doug is a member of nearly each main numismatic group, skilled commerce group and main coin affiliation within the US.