1799 Small Stars Reverse Half Eagle (BD-2, R-5+)
NCG AU58 CAC. An estimated mintage of 10,000-15,000
half eagles were struck bearing the 1799 date. Of
these, in their reference “Early U.S. Gold Coin
Varieties”, Bass-Dannreuther estimate that 1,500-2,500
were struck from this die combination, one of the
more available of the year.
The obverse die used to strike this magnificent coin
was not used previously, and is thus still in very
good state. Later in the year, the obverse was matched
with another reverse die, and this obverse die broke
after it struck not even more than 800 coins. This
was a common occurrence at the early US mint, as the
Mint employees had many problems keeping the dies
in use for a longer period.
The reverse die was earlier used in 1798, and was
lapped before it put in use to strike this coin. This
is one of the most interesting reverse die of the
series, made by John Smith Gardner. He based the position
of the reverse stars on that seen on the Great Seal
of the United States. As a result, the stars are almost
perfectly aligned, an effect that can be boldly seen
on the present coin.
Completely original, it is hard to imagine how this
coin remained in this lovely state of perseveration
for more than 200 years. Very nicely toned, this coin
shows vibrant red-orange-yellow gold color on both
sides. Lustrous surfaces, only the slightest friction
on the highest points keeps this coin out of a much
higher Mint-State holder.