PCGS grade. Sold in Stack's Auction of Garrett / Hopkins University, Mar. 1976. Pedigreed 10/6/15.
The 1838 Half Eagle is a fairly common coin as far as Classic Head Half Eagles go. It is not as common as the higher-mintage 1834 Plain 4 and the 1836, but it is far less rare than the lower-mintage 1834 Crosslet 4, 1838-C, and 1838-D. Akers wrote that truly choice Uncirculated examples are rare, but the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census includes ten examples that are at least MS64 or better. The finest example is a phenomenal MS68 (estimated grade) example in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, followed by a single PCGS MS66, then a PCGS MS65+ that is fully prooflike (and has actually been called a Proof in the past by both Walter Breen and David Akers). Akers was correct in noting that this date comes well struck.
National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution
Gold Rush Collection - Heritage 1/2005:30048, $126,500 - Madison Collection - Heritage 1/2008:3159, $253,000 - Larry Hanks - D. Brent Pogue Collection
Phinehas Adams Collection - William J. Jenks Collection - John Haseltine 6/1883:375 - George Massamore - T. Harrison Garrett Collection - Robert Garrett Collection - John Work Garrett Collection - Johns Hopkins University Collection - Stack’s 3/1976:371 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:863, $35,650 - Andrew Nugget, sold privately in 4/2002 - D. Brent Pogue Collection