Estimated grade. Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $1100
Doug Winter: The 1852-D has the second highest mintage figure of any Dahlonega half eagle. It is among the more common half eagles from this mint and it is generally grouped with the 1853-D and the 1854-D half eagles. However, it is much more difficult to find in high grades, especially above About Uncirculated-55, than the 1853-D or 1854-D.
It is easily located in the lower circulated grades and average quality About Uncirculated-50 pieces are offered with some degree of regularity. It becomes very scarce in the higher About Uncirculated grades and fully Mint State 1852-D half eagles are very rare.
STRIKE: Beginning with the 1852-D, the strike of Dahlonega half eagles takes on a new character. For the next few years, most are very weakly struck at the borders and show peculiar beveled edges which are suggestive of poorly matched edge collars. The obverse of the 1852-D is almost always softly impressed. The center shows much of its detail (except on the curl below the ear which is nearly always flat) but it is not boldly struck up. The edge is very soft and the stars and denticles are mushy in appearance. The reverse is weak on the eagle’s neck and shield and the border is typically flat and mushy.
SURFACES: Most 1852-D half eagles are heavily abraded. This is a very hard issue to find with clean surfaces. I have seen a number with noticeable scratches in the fields.
LUSTER: The quality of luster is below average. It is often subdued and has a slight grainy texture.
COLORATION: Original examples are often found with rich orange-gold or fairly deep green-gold coloration. There are still some pieces that have pleasing natural coloration but they are becoming more and more difficult to locate.
EYE APPEAL: This is a surprisingly hard issue to locate with good eye appeal. This is due to the fact that many are poorly struck and have heavily marked surfaces.
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: The 1852-D half eagle sold in the Heritage January 2003 auction was one of the prettiest examples of this date I have ever seen but it had a tragic scratch on the obverse that was caused by a staple. Collectors and dealers who were active before the advent of third-party grading probably remember the old 2x2 flips that were sealed with staples. If the staples were not properly removed it was easy to scratch the surfaces of a coin when it was being taken out of a flip.
DIE VARIETIES: Three varieties are currently known. It is possible that others exist.
Variety 27-S: On the obverse, the 1 in the date touches the truncation and its serif extends out to the end of the truncation. The reverse appears to have been used only in 1852. The upright of the mintmark is over the center of the right diagonal in the V in FIVE. The left edge of the D is over the gap between the diagonals of the V while the right edge is over the right edge of the upright of the E. The mintmark is joined to the tip of the feather and it is away from the stem.
Variety 28-T: On the obverse, the date is placed further to the right and the 1 is free of the truncation. The reverse was used in 1852 and again in 1853. The upright of the D is over the left serif of the right diagonal of the V in FIVE. The left edge of the mintmark is over the center of the left diagonal of the V while the right edge is over the center of the upright of the E. The feather tip is over the upright of the mintmark while the upper serif of the mintmark is very close to the talon.
Variety 28-U: The mintmark is located in a slightly different position than either of the varieties listed above. The mintmark touches the branch stem with the right edge of the center of the E. The inside of the curve of the mintmark is slightly doubled. There is a heavy vertical line that extends completely through the right side of the second S in STATES. This feature is not seen on the other varieties of this year.
The only example seen of variety 28-U was Lot 439 in the May 2000 Bass III sale.David Akers (1975/88): The 1852-D is one of the least rare of the Dahlonega Mint Half Eagles. Although the vast majority of known specimens are VF or EF, a number of AU specimens are known and there is also a small quantity of uncirculated examples in existence. Some of the uncs, however, have the dull "matte" surfaces characteristic of coins immersed for a long time in salt water. Such "uncs" are worth only a fraction of the value of a fully lustrous or originally toned specimen. The 1852-D is always weakly struck, particularly at the borders and on the hair curls around Liberty's face.