Estimated grade. Ex. Salisbury (1959) Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $1210
Doug Winter: The 1854-C remains among the scarcest of the later date Charlotte half eagles. Despite the fact that the true rarity of this coin is better known to non-specialists now than when the last edition of this book was published, it is still an underrated coin.
Along with the 1856-C, the 1854-C is one of the scarcest Charlotte half eagles from the 1850s. It is most often seen in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades. When available in About Uncirculated, specimens tend to be at the low end of this range. Any example grading AU55 or better is quite rare, and Uncirculated pieces are extremely rare with no more than a half dozen or so believed to exist. I have only seen two or three Uncirculated 1854-C half eagles that had sharply defined mintmarks.
STRIKE: Many 1854-C half eagles are quite weakly struck at the center of the obverse. This is particularly notable on the curls below IBER in LIBERTY. With the exception of the top of the curl below the ear, which can show serious weakness, the rest of the hair detail is sharp. Some of the stars are flat at their centers, but many are sharp with radial lines. The reverse is weak at the center and this corresponds to the area (s) described for the obverse. The upper leg feathers near the shield, the arrow feathers and the left claw are most often the areas that are weak. With the exception of the right leg, the rest of the reverse is sharp. A number of 1854-C half eagles are seen with weak or very weak mintmarks. Coins without fully defined mintmarks typically sell for less than those with sharp mintmarks.
SURFACES: For some reason, the quality of the planchets used to produce the 1854-C half eagle are not as good as on many of the Charlotte half eagles produced during the early part of the 1850s. I have seen a number with mint-made vertical striations on the obverse as well as others with laminations or areas of roughness in the fields. Others exist which appear slightly grainy but which are definitely not saltwater coins with matte-like surfaces. Most 1854-C half eagles are quite heavily abraded with deep, detracting marks in the fields.
LUSTER: The luster seen on higher grade pieces is grainy and not nearly as appealing as that seen on the 1852-C or 1853-C half eagles. This is compounded by the fact that many survivors have been cleaned, dipped or processed at one time. The 1854-C is among the most difficult Charlotte half eagles to find with good luster.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is most often a deep green-gold hue. I have also seen a few pieces that were a lighter rich yellow-gold. The hues are invariably somewhat light, probably due to the fact that so many are grainy in texture.
EYE APPEAL: This is among the hardest Charlotte half eagles to find with good eye appeal. The weakness of strike at the centers makes many examples appear to have greater wear than they actually have. In addition, some have planchet problems which are detracting. Any 1854-C that is choice and attractive is very rare and deserving of a strong premium over typical example.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: A number of Variety 2 coins show shallow strike-throughs in the fields as a result of clogged dies.
DIE VARIETIES: There are two die varieties known.
Variety 1 (formerly 22-1): Only one obverse was used. The 1 in the date is very close to the bust while the 4 is centered in the field between the bust and the denticles. The reverse was used only in 1854. The mintmark is large and its right edge is placed over the center of the V in FIVE, The left edge of the C is over the upright of the I in FIVE. The serif of the C is very close to the feather tip and the mintmark is very close to the talon.
This variety can be readily distinguished from Variety 2 as the mintmark is considerably further to the left. The reverse always has a bisecting die crack from the rim just to the left of the first S in STATES that runs across the eagle to the C in AMERICA, termination the rim.
Variety 2 (formerly Variety 22-J): The obverse is the same as on Variety 1. The reverse is the same as on 1853-C Variety 3. The mintmark is large and is centered over the upright of the E in FIVE.
On this variety, the mintmark is placed much further to the right than on Variety 1. The mintmark was lightly entered in the die and is always weak. This variety sometimes has shallow strike-throughs (from partly clogged dies) on both sides.David Akers (1975/88): The 1854-C Half Eagle is very rare in all grades and is seldom available above the well worn condition of VF. There are a small number of EF coins and a few AU's in existence but I do not think there are more than one or two strictly uncirculated pieces. The only one I have seen with legitimate claims to mint state was the Robison specimen that realized $5750 in February 1979.