Estimated grade. Sold by Bowers and Merena Nov '83 price realized $275
David Akers (1975/88): This is the first year of the new type design by Christian Gobrecht. Although not especially rare in lower grades, it is nevertheless much more rare in all grades than any of the Philadelphia Mint coins of the previous type except the 1834 Crosslet 4. High grade specimens, i.e. coins grading AU or Unc., are very rare and choice mint state pieces are virtually unobtainable. By a substantial margin, the finest 1839 I have ever seen was the superb gem Dean Mathey specimen that was sold in the 1973 NASC Sale for a then remarkable $2250. I have omitted any listing for the so-called "1839/8" Half Eagle because in my opinion, there is no such thing. All 1839 Half Eagles have the same raised dot on the neck near the lowest hair curl and I have never seen a convincing example of a legitimate overdate. (The existence of such an overdate is also illogical since there is no other example after the very earliest days of the U.S. Mint where a new, supposedly improved design began life as an overdate. It seems improbable to me that the dies would have been prepared in 1838 for a brand new design and then repunched with a new date before use. Certainly overdates abound in the early days of U.S. coinage but they are decidedly uncommon after the 1820's and with just one exception (the 1796/5 Half Dime) overdates always exist within the same type and never in the first year of a new design.) The head of Liberty on this and the other issues of 1839 is distinctly different from the head on coins dated 1840 and later. The difference is sufficient that the 1839 should be considered a one year only type coin.
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