• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

I finally found an 1838-C half eagle

14 posts in this topic

After more than a two year search I have finally located a nice looking 1838-C half eagle. Although this coin is not a major rarity overall, finding a really attractive example is very difficult. Many pieces have been cleaned, quite often harshly, and the on the few pieces I've seen with original surfaces, I don't believe that the Charlotte Mint did a great job when it produced them. The coin was certainly not as well made as its 1838-D half eagle counterpart.


Here is a photo of the coin and the write-up I posted on my NGC registry site. Many thanks to Doug Winter for locating this piece for me.




The 1838-C half eagle was first series of coins that the Charlotte Mint produced when it began operations on March 26 of that year. The quarter eagle production began later in the year. Although the Philadelphia Mint sent two obverse and two reverse dies to Charlotte, only one of the obverse dies was used with both of the reverse dies. The second reverse die with evidence of recutting on the "5" in "5 D." was used on the coin that is displayed above. This piece was among the last 1838-C half eagles to be struck as evidenced by the large die crack that runs across the reverse.


According to most sources, including the Red Book, the total mintage for the 1838-C half eagle was 17,179 pieces. Clair Birdsall estimated the mintage to be 19,118 pieces including 6,232 coins that were stuck in 1839. Today an estimated 200 to 250 examples survive according to Doug Winter.


Although the 1838-C half eagle is not a major rarity, it is very hard to find an attractive example of this coin. Very few pieces were saved from circulation when the coins were issued as evidenced by the fact only two to four examples are known in Mint State with the finest example grading MS-63. Almost Uncirculated examples are also quite scarce, and many of the surviving coins have been cleaned, often very harshly. Coins with smooth, original surfaces are quite rare and hard to find.


The coin shown above was in the Elrod collection. It has very smooth surfaces for this issue with a decent amount of mint luster on both sides. It took me more than two years to locate this piece after rejecting more than 20 pieces that I had seen offered for sale.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Terrific achievement.


All it took was enormous patience, 2 years of looking and a pile of money.



Has to be satisfying to finally scratch that one off your want list.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing! (thumbs u




Doug Winter: The 1838-C half eagle is among the most popular coins produced at this mint. It is the only Charlotte half eagle that employed William Kneass’ Classic Head design of 1834-1838 and its great popularity stems from the fact that it is a one-year type with first-year-of issue status. Unlike many first year coins that were saved as souvenirs (or that have misreported original mintage figures) and are, as a result, more common than on might expect, the 1838-C is an extremely rare coin in high grades. This is an interesting contrast to the 1838-D half eagle which is far more available in About Uncirculated and Uncirculated than in lower circulated grades.


The 1838-C half eagle is usually found with a good deal of wear and is most often seen on the VF to EF grade range. It becomes scarce in properly graded EF45 and is very rare in any AU grade. This is among the rarest Charlotte half eagles in Uncirculated and I am aware of no more than two to four pieces that grade Mint State by today’s standards.


STRIKE: This is not generally a well struck issue. The obverse is the sharper of the two sides. The curls below BER show weakness but are better detailed than on the Philadelphia half eagles of this design. Some areas in the upper hair appear weak but this is due to lapping of the die and not actual weakness of the strike. The stars are mostly well defined, with many showing full radial lines. The reverse shows a much lighter strike. This is, once again, as much a function of die lapping as it is actual weakness. Certain areas of the right wing, especially the outside base and the junction of the wing and the shield, appear to be missing entirely. The top of the eagle’s head and the bottom of the neck appear disjointed from the top of the shield. In addition, much of the eagle’s right leg is not full. The lettering can appear to be quite weak, particularly at the top of UNITED and AMERICA.


SURFACES: Virtually all 1838-C half eagles have extremely heavily abraded surfaces. The fields are usually disturbed due to the depth and intensity of these marks. This is often compounded by the fact that most examples have been cleaned at one time. I have seen numerous 1838-C half eagles with scratches, digs or severe impairments on the surfaces. Any piece with choice surfaces is very rare and desirable.


LUSTER: The typical coin is worn to the point that it shows little in the way of original luster. Higher grade coins tend to show luster which combines frostiness with semi-prooflike reflectiveness.


COLORATION: The natural coloration is a pleasing medium green-gold and yellow-gold mixture. A few are known with very attractive natural coppery-orange toning. There are no more than a handful of examples left that have full original coloration and most of these are in lower grades. A higher grade 1838-C half eagle that has mot been dipped or harshly cleaned is extremely desirable and is worth a considerable premium over a typical example.


EYE APPEAL: There are not many issues from this mint that are more difficult to locate with above-average eye appeal than the 1838-C half eagle. This is because most examples are very well worn, poorly struck and excessively abraded. Attractive examples always command a strong premium over typical quality specimens.


DIE CHARACTERISTICS: Although it may not be clear on lower grade pieces, there is a small centering dot visible in the lower portion of Liberty’s ear. The feathers on the eagles’ right side (the viewer’s left) are weak from die lapping. On some coins, the feathers along the right side of the shield are entirely missing and there are hollow areas in the wing all the way through to the middle portion. This should not be mistaken for wear.


DIE VARIETIES: Two die varieties are known.


Variety 1 (formerly Variety 1-A): Only one obverse is known. It is immediately recognizable by a sharp center punch in the ear of Liberty. The style of the 8s in the date is similar to that seen on the Philadelphia half eagles of this year but unlike those seen on the 1838-D half eagle. The date is close and curved, with the 1 taller than the other digits. The mintmark is positioned above the 3, slightly to the left of center.


On the reverse, the 5 is normal and it shows no signs of having been repunched. The berry is slender and it has no stem. The leaves below the U in UNITED are not equal in size and are distant from this letter. NIT in UNITED is spaced far apart as in TAT in STATES. The E in AMERICA is above the R of this word at the base. The 5 is nearly centered in the field between the feathers and the denticles. The first A in AMERICA is not joined to the wing.


This variety is not generally seen with severe breaks.


Variety 2 (formerly Variety 1-B): On this variety, the reverse is recognizable by having clear repunching on the 5. There is a single leaf below the U in UNITED which touches this letter from below. The N in UNITED is recut on the serifs, the D in UNITED is recut at the top, the TE in STATES are recut at the top and the F in OF is sharply recut along its top. The AM in AMERICA shows light repunching. The 5 is closer to the denticles than to the feathers. While this reverse is, on occasion, found perfect, it is more often seen with a bold diagonal break that runs from the rim through the leaves, the leg of the eagle, the center of the shield, the field over the eagle’s wing on the right and to the rim over the wing tip.


Variety 2 is considerably scarcer than Variety 1.


Ref: Source of above

Link to comment
Share on other sites