Estimated grade. Ex. Melish; Kosoff (1956) Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $1980
Doug Winter: The 1853-D is the most common Dahlonega half eagle in terms of the total number known to exist. It is also the most common Dahlonega half eagle in high grades.
It can be located in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades with relative ease and average About Uncirculated examples can be found without much trouble. This date becomes scarce in high end About Uncirculated and it is rare in Mint State.
STRIKE: There are two distinct “looks” found on examples of this date. The majority of 1853-D half eagles are softly struck with weak borders. A small number show a stronger strike and have an appearance reminiscent of pre-1850 issues. On the weakly struck coins, the obverse is fairly well detailed at the center but it weakens at the border with very flat stars and noticeable blurriness on the denticles. The reverse is better struck with the center very sharp. The border is faint with many of the denticles blurry or indistinct. The sharply struck 1853-D half eagles are much bolder at the border with the denticles showing nearly complete detail. The stars on such coins, though, are still weak at the centers.
SURFACES: Most have very heavily abraded surfaces. It is common to find pieces with deep, detracting marks in the fields. There are some raised die scratches in the field just past the thirteenth star. Examples exist with matte-like surfaces from exposure to seawater. While they have the sharpness of Uncirculated, they are generally accorded the value of Extremely Fine coins.
LUSTER: The luster is very good and is certainly among the best seen on any half eagle from this mint. It can range in texture from satiny to frosty. A small number have slightly reflective fields.
COLORATION: Original, uncleaned 1853-D half eagles show some of the prettiest coloration on any coin from this mint. Orange-gold and medium green-gold hues are seen most often. There are still enough around with original color to satisfy the connoisseur but these are becoming harder to locate.
EYE APPEAL: As one would expect from the most common Dahlonega issue of this denomination, the 1853-D half eagle can be found with excellent eye appeal. But the typical coin is poorly struck and liberally abraded. Examples with excellent eye appeal sell for strong premiums due to their popularity as type coins.
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: The 1853-D is the generic Dahlonega half eagle when it comes to Uncirculated coins. The affordability and relative availability of these high grade 1853-D half eagles make them very popular with type collectors.
DIE VARIETIES: A total of four die varieties are currently known. There is a good possibility that a new obverse die will be discovered, especially in light of the fact that four reverses were used to strike the 1853-D half eagle.
Variety 29-T: Large Mintmark. The obverse is the same for all four varieties of this year. The date is centered in the field and the upper serif of the 1 extends to the end of the truncation. The reverse is the same as described for 1852-D Variety 28-T.
Variety 29-U: Large Mintmark. Same obverse as the last. This reverse was used in 1853 and again in 1854. The upright of the mintmark is over the upright of the E in FIVE. The left edge of the mintmark is over the left edge of the E while the right edge is over the right edge of the E. The mintmark appears to touch the stem and it is very close to the feather.
Variety 29-V: Large Mintmark. Same obverse as the last. The reverse was used only in 1853. The upright of the mintmark is over the left edge of the upright of the E in FIVE. The left edge of the mintmark is over the right serif of the right diagonal of the V in FIVE while the right edge is over the right edge of the E. The mintmark is away from the stem and the feather.
Variety 29-W: Medium Mintmark. Same obverse as the last. This reverse was used in 1853, 1854 and 1855. The upright of the mintmark is over the gap between the V and the E in FIVE. The left edge of the mintmark is over the center of the right diagonal of the V while the right edge extends out to the right edge of the middle segment of the E. The mintmark is away from the feather and the stem.
David Akers (1975/88): This is one of the three or four most common D Mint Half Eagles and although the average specimen is only VF or EF, a fair number of AU's are known as well as a small quantity of uncirculated specimens, several of which are very choice. (One of the choice pieces, the Bareford specimen, brought $17,500 in December 1978.) Most specimens are softly struck on the hair curls and parts of the eagle and are very weak at the denticle. A number of "salt water uncs" are known, but such specimens are only worth EF or AU prices.