Estimated grade. Ex. Melish; Kosoff (1956) Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $5500
Doug Winter: The 1857-D half eagle is among the rarest late date Dahlonega half eagles. It is among the hardest half eagles from this mint to locate in very high grades.
The 1857-D half eagle is scarce and undervalued. It is most often seen in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades and it is rare in properly graded About Uncirculated-50. It becomes very rare in the higher About Uncirculated grades and extremely rare in full Mint State.
STRIKE: The 1857-D half eagle shows a better overall strike than the 1856-D but it is still not what could be called a well struck issue. On the obverse, there is usually weakness on the hair around the face and on the curl below the ear of Liberty. A few pieces are very weak at the central obverse and show almost no detail on the curls below LIBERTY. Some of the stars show weakness and the date often appears to be somewhat faintly impressed. The reverse is sharper but frequently shows weakness on the lower part of the shield, the legs of the eagle, the claws, and the arrow feather. The rims have the distinctive rounded or beveled appearance seen on Dahlonega half eagles struck during the middle and latter part of the 1850’s.
SURFACES: A number were produced on poor planchets. As a result, these coins show chips, laminations or areas of roughness. Most are heavily abraded. It is possible to find a piece with decent surfaces and an unimpaired planchet but such coins are definitely scarce.
LUSTER: This date does not generally show good luster. The luster is most often satiny with a somewhat grainy texture.
COLORATION: Uncleaned, original examples can show very pleasing orange-gold coloration. There are only a handful of 1857-D half eagles that have original coloration.
EYE APPEAL: The majority of 1857-D half eagles do not have especially good eye appeal. This is the result of poor strikes, inferior planchets and numismatic abuse. Any example with good eye appeal is quite rare.
DIE VARIETIES: Two die varieties are known.
Variety 34-CC: On the obverse, the date is centered in the field and it is not near the neck or the denticles. Medium mintmark. On the reverse, which was used in 1857, 1858, and again in 1859, 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 is over the right edge of the middle segment of the E. The upper serif of the mintmark is close to the feather tip and the mintmark is also close to the stem.
Variety 34-DD: Large mintmark, positioned close to the branch and nearly touching the feathers. The upright of the D is positioned over the right serif of the right diagonal of the V in FIVE.David Akers (1975/88): The 1857-D has the lowest mintage of any Dahlonega Half Eagle to this point. It is generally softly struck on the hair curls around the face and on parts of the eagle. The rims are well rounded. As a date, the 1857-D is as rare as any D Mint Half Eagle after 1840 with the exception of 1842 and the 1848-1850 coins. A few strictly uncirculated examples are known but VF and EF are the most often encountered grades.