David Akers (1975/88): Historically, this issue has been called "1839 Large Letters" and the following issue, "1839 Small Letters". This nomenclature is totally inadequate to describe the difference between the two issues and implies that they are merely two varieties of the same type. Actually, they are different types with the head of Liberty dramatically different on each issue. (Ironically, the sizes of the letters on the reverse are so close that one would be hard pressed to distinguish between the two on a side-by-side comparison!) For these reasons, I have opted to call this first 1839 issue the "Type of '38" and the second 1839 issue, the "Type of '40". Hopefully, these appellations will prevail in the future.
The 1839 Type of '38 is rare in all grades although less so than the 1838. However, the difference in rarity between the two is not nearly as great as the large mintage difference might imply. Most known specimens are in the VF-EF range and strictly graded AUs are very rare. A few uncirculated examples are known but they must be considered extremely rare.
David Hall: Interestingly, David Akers stepped out in 1980 and challenged tradition by declaring that the first $10 Liberty issues, 1838 and 1839 Type of '38, were actually two different types. Not only did the numismatic community adopt his position, we used his names for the two 1839 issues. Just shows what a visionary David was and how important his books on gold coins were (are).
There are a few uncirculated examples, including two Gems. The finest is the incredible MS66 Van Simmons and I bought at auction a few years ago. After the auction, Numismatic News asked me for quote as to why we purchased such an expensive coin and I said, "I'm just trying to hedge against the inevitable decline in the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar." Unfortunately, they didn't use my tongue-in-cheek quote. The real reason we bought the coin was we had a client building a complete type set of U.S. coins and the coin still resides in that incredible collection today.
Gold Rush Collection - Heritage 1/2005, $402,500 - David Hall Rare Coins - private collector
Superior 2/1998:3469, $253,000 - The Type Set Collection
Ed Milas - Heritage 10/1995:6233, $77,000
National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution