PCGS grade. Sold in Stack's Auction of Garrett / Hopkins University, Mar. 1976. Pedigreed 10/6/15.
The 1838 Half Eagle is a fairly common coin as far as Classic Head Half Eagles go. It is not as common as the higher-mintage 1834 Plain 4 and the 1836, but it is far less rare than the lower-mintage 1834 Crosslet 4, 1838-C, and 1838-D. Akers wrote that truly choice Uncirculated examples are rare, but the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census includes ten examples that are at least MS64 or better. The finest example is a single PCGS MS66, followed by a rather impressive PCGS MS65 that is fully prooflike (and has actually been called a Proof in the past by both Walter Breen and David Akers). Akers was correct in noting that this date comes well struck.
Gold Rush Collection - Heritage 1/2005:30048, $126,500 - Madison Collection - Heritage 1/2008:3159, $253,000
Byron Reed Collection - Spink America 10/1996:126, $121,000 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:865, $115,000. This example is fully prooflike and has been called both a Proof (by Akers and Breen) and a Specimen (by NGC) in the past.