Estimated grade. Ex. New Netherlands Sale (1957) Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $3850
Doug Winter: After having been closed for more than a full year because of a fire, the Charlotte Mint reopened in October 1846. It is probable that the quarter eagles and the half eagles produced during this year saw especially strong demand due to the shortage caused by the absence of production for a year.
The 1846-C is among the scarcest half eagles from this mint. The majority of the survivors grade EF40 or below. Properly graded AU50 to AU55 coins are extremely scarce and an AU58 coin with good eye appeal is rare. I know of five or so Uncirculated pieces...
STRIKE: The strike seen on the 1846-C half eagle is noticeably better than on the 1844-C. The obverse is generally sharp with much of the hair detail clearly defined. Most examples show some weakness at the ear, the curls below IBE and, less often, at the top of the head. The stars are generally sharp with many having full radial line definition. The reverse is not as well struck. Many examples are weak at the top of the shield and the left wing tip. The lower portion of the wings is sharper and the legs and claws are often full or nearly so. The denticles are sharp on both sides.
SURFACES: The surfaces on most examples are heavily marked. This is an issue that appears to have been actively used in commerce. As a result, deep obtrusive marks are commonly seen in the fields and on the devices as well. Many have been cleaned with hairlines seen in the fields. This is an extremely hard coin to find with original surfaces.
LUSTER: High grade 1846-C half eagles exhibit strong frosty luster with a very slightly grainy texture. A few are known that are slightly reflective on the obverse. There are also examples with matte-like surfaces due to exposure from seawater. Such coins typically have the sharpness of Mint State or thereabouts but are accorded the value of an Extremely Fine with normal surfaces.
COLORATION: Uncleaned, original 1846-C half eagles have some of the most pleasing coloration seen on any half eagle from this mint produced during the 1840s. Medium to deep yellow-gold hues with green-gold undertones are seen on some, while others have a more coppery-orange shade. Unfortunately, most have been cleaned or dipped and no longer show original color.
EYE APPEAL: There are a small number of choice, original 1846-C half eagles and theses include some extremely handsome examples. These tend to be in tightly held collections and do not often trade. The typical piece offered for sale is lower grade, heavily abraded and not attractive.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are no prominent die characteristics noted for this date.
DIE VARIETIES: A single die variety is known.
Variety 1 (formerly Variety 8-E): The 1 in the date is repunched upwards at its base. The 1 is centered in the field between the denticles and the bust. The 6 is closer to the denticles than to the bust. The reverse was used in 1846, 1847 and 1848. The mintmark is large and its right edge is positioned over the right edge of the upright of the E in FIVE. The left edge of the mintmark is over the center of the right serif of the V. The serif of the mintmark is very close to the branch and its position is much closer to the feathers than to the V.David Akers (1975/88): The 1846-C is very rare in all grades, slightly more so than the 1844-C and at least as rare if not more rare than the 1939-C, 1840-C, 1841-C or 1842-C Large Date. Most known specimens grade in the VF to EF range and AU examples are rarely seen. I have never seen a strictly uncirculated piece but it is possible that a few exist.
David Wilson Collection - S.H. Chapman 3/1907 - Clapp Collection, sold intact in 1942 - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Ruddy 10/1982:440, $13,200 - Stanley Elrod Collection - Doug Winter/Lee Minshull - Paul Dingler Collection - Pinnacle Rarities/Heritage - Kevin Lipton - private collection