PCGS graded. Purchased by Harry Bass from the Norweb collection auction conducted by Bowers and Merena in October, 1987, lot 817.
Doug Winter: The 1845-D half eagle is similar to the 1843-D half eagle in terms of the total number of pieces which exist. The 1845-D is only slightly more available in high grades than the 1843-D.
The 1845-D half eagle is relatively common in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades. It can be located in About Uncirculated-50 with greater ease than any Dahlonega half eagle from the 1840’s with the exception of the 1843-D. In About Uncirculated-55, the 1845-D half eagle becomes very scarce and it is quite rare in About Uncirculated-58. Fully Mint State examples are very rare.
STRIKE: This issue is considerably better struck than the Dahlonega half eagles from the latter part of the 1840’s. But, it is not usually found with as sharp a strike as seen on the 1843 and 1844 Dahlonega half eagles. The obverse is often sharp at the center but slightly weak at the stars and the denticles. The area from 2:00 to 4:00 on the obverse rim is much weaker than on the rest of the coin. The reverse shows a better overall strike although it is common to see 1845-D half eagles with weakness on the eagle’s right leg.
SURFACES: Most 1845-D half eagles show numerous marks on the surfaces. This date is not as heavily marked as the 1844-D but it is very hard to find an example which does not show detracting abrasions. Many show light clashmarks at the center of the throat of Liberty and at the back of Liberty’s neck.
LUSTER: The luster seen on many uncleaned, original 1845-D half eagles is very good. It is most often frosty with a slightly grainy texture.
COLORATION: Uncleaned pieces can have some of the best natural coloration of any issue from this mint. The colors can range from deep green to intense orange-gold with coppery overtones. Most of the 1845-D half eagles with great color are off the market and the majority of the coins that I have seen offered in recent years have been cleaned or dipped.
EYE APPEAL: This is a more difficult date to find with good eye appeal than the other common Dahlonega half eagles from the first part of the 1840’s. While some extremely choice 1845-D half eagles are known, many are heavily marked, irregularly struck and have been cleaned.
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: The Bass/Norweb 1845-D half eagle is the finest known and it set a record price for a Dahlonega gold coin in the 1987 Norweb sale when it brought $66,000. It has an interesting story behind it. Jack Hancock badly wanted to buy the coin for a client but was scheduled to be in Hawaii on vacation during the Norweb sale. So he instructed a well-known New York dealer who was attending the auction to buy the coin.
Mike Brownlee was basically given the same instruction by Harry Bass and a fierce bidding war broke out. The New York dealer finally quite when it occurred to him that, perhaps, he was stretching a bit more than Jack would have liked. When Jack phoned him after the sale and asked what the 1845-D half eagle brought, he went silent for a number of minutes. He hadn’t wanted to bid more than $30,000 and readily expected to own the coin at that level. Thus, the record price was the result of two stubborn bidders; one of whom, as it turned out, would have dropped out much earlier if he had actually been at the auction.
DIE VARIETIES: There are two die varieties currently known.
Variety 12-I: The date is placed somewhat high in the field and it is far to the left. On early die states, there are some small raised lines above the 45. The reverse has a Large D which is closer to the feather tip than to the V in FIVE. The tip of the feather is positioned over the upright of the mintmark. The left edge of the mintmark is over the center of the left diagonal of the V in FIVE. The right edge of the mintmark is over the center of the upright of the E and it appears equidistant from the feather tip and talon. This reverse was reused in 1846.
Variety 13-I: The date is located somewhat further towards the right. In the first edition of this book, I noted that this variety had been described by Walter Breen but that I had not seen any examples. In 1999, it was re-discovered by collector Paul Harris.
An example is illustrated as Lot 8142 in the Heritage 9/02 sale.David Akers (1975/88): This date is of approximate equal rarity to the 1843-D and 1844-D. Uncirculated specimens are known but they are very rare, and VF or EF coins are all that are normally available.
New Netherlands Coin Company 7/1956 - Norweb Family - Bowers & Merena 10/1987:817 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:948 - Heritage 1/2004:1047 - C.W. Collection - American Numismatic Rarities 8/2006:1394, $80,500