Estimated grade. Ex. Kreisberg-Schulman Sale (1959) Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $1210
Doug Winter: The original mintage figure of the 1855-C half eagle was nearly identical to that for the 1854-C. It is not nearly as scarce in terms of the its overall rarity, but both dates remain fairly similar in high grade rarity.
The 1855-C half eagle is only moderately scarce in lower grades. It becomes scarce in properly graded AU50 and quite rare in the higher AU grades, especially with natural color and original surfaces. In Uncirculated it remains an extremely rare coin. I am aware of just four or five, including a Gem...
STRIKE: This issue is slightly better struck than other Charlotte half eagles form this era. The obverse is mostly well detailed, although many are weak on the curls around the face. The top of the hair and the bun are sharp. The stars may show weakness, especially in the centers and the first three or four are the most likely to be weak. The border is sharp with clear, full denticles. The reverse is a bit less well struck. There is often weakness seen on the eagle’s head and the lower neck feathers. Both the legs show weakness as do the claws. The border is sharper with strong lettering and denticles. Unlike other dates of this era, the mintmark is seen with a full, sharp strike.
SURFACES: The Charlotte half eagles from the mid-1850s saw heavy commercial use. As a result, most show concentrated nicks and abrasions on the surfaces. The fields on many 1855-C half eagles are densely marked, and I have seen more than a few with intentional scratches or rim cuts (test marks?). Examples are known with matte-like surfaces from exposure to saltwater. While these have the sharpness of Uncirculated, they are generally accorded the value of Extremely Fine.
LUSTER: The luster on this issue is better than that seen on the 1854-C half eagle. It is similar in appearance to that seen on the 1853-C and high grade, original pieces show pleasing thick, frost luster. A few are known with slightly reflective prooflike fields.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is most often a medium to deep green-gold. Some exist with lighter yellow-gold coloration. As with most Charlotte coins, locating an example with original color has become extremely hard as more and more coins are dipped and processed. When I wrote the last edition of this book, I estimated that no more than 20-30% of all surviving Charlotte gold coins had their original surfaces intact. Today, I would say that this number is well below 10% and could actually be as low as 5%.
EYE APPEAL: The few relatively high grade 1855-C half eagles that are known are quite attractive, but the typical example has below average eye appeal. Most 1855-C half eagles are decently detailed; they are also liberally abraded, washed-out in appearance and have color that is “off.”
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: A small number of coins have a cud on the reverse that is located from 4:00 to 6:00. I have seen six or so pieces on which this cud is quite large and very impressive. Although these do not generally sell for a premium, I believe that they are worth around 10-20% more.
DIE VARIETIES: Only one variety is known.
Variety 1 (formerly 23-J): The 1 in the date is closer to the denticles than the bust. The second 5 is centered in the field between the bust and the denticles. The reverse features a large, bold mintmark that is centered over the upright of the E in FIVE.David Akers (1975/88): Although not quite as rare overall as the 1854-C, the 1855-C is more rare as a date than the C Mint coins from 1847 to 1850 as well as the 1852-C and 1853-C. It is of almost identical rarity to the 1851-C. Most known specimens are in the VF to EF range and I have seen just two uncirculated specimens, the finest being the Garrett coin that sold in March 1976 for $6000. A few "salt water uncs" exist.
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