||March 2020 Baltimore U.S. Coins Auction
||Famous Key Date 1802/0 Half Cent
Impressive Choice VF Quality
1802/0 Draped Bust Half Cent. C-2. Rarity-3. Second Reverse (a.k.a. Reverse of 1802). VF-30 (PCGS). CAC. OGH.
Type:Type IV: Draped Bust.
Design: Obv: A draped bust of Liberty faces right, her hair tied with a ribbon. The word LIBERTY is above and the date 1802/0 is below. Rev: Design of 1802 to 1808. A wreath surrounds the denomination HALF CENT, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the border and another expression of the denomination, 1/200, below. A ribbon knot with double bow binds the base of the wreath.
Weight Standard: 84 grains (5.44 grams).
Diameter: 23.5 mm.
Die Variety: Cohen-2, Breen-2, Gilbert-1. Obv: The only 1802-dated die in the half cent series, and an overdate employing an unused 1800-dated die. The left foot of the letter T in LIBERTY is missing. Rev: Single leaf at the top of the left branch in the wreath, double leaf at the top of the right branch in the wreath. There are five berries on the left branch, six on the right branch; there is an outer berry on the right branch between the lowest leaf and the branch stem. A die scratch joins the branch stem at right to the right foot of the final letter A in AMERICA, and another joins the left end of the fraction bar to the ribbon. There is a faint die spur from the denticle between the digits 00 in the denomination. This is the only use of this reverse die.
Cohen-2 corresponds to the Second Reverse Guide Bookvariety of the 1802/0 half cent. This variety is also known as the Reverse of 1802, most notably on PCGS inserts, as here.
Die State: Manley 2.0, described as "very scarce" therein. Obv: Several rust lumps are evident in the field between the letters IB in LIBERTY. The die has not yet been repolished, the loop of the lowest hair curl closed, i.e. complete. Rev: Perfect, with denomination HALF CENT fully legible, as allowed by wear.
Mintage: The generally accepted mintage of this issue is 20,266 coins, achieved in three deliveries:
-August 8, 1802: 8,200 coins
-September 14, 1802: 6,166 coins
-August 8, 1803: 5,900 coins
Estimated Surviving Population for the Issue: 230 to 650 coins in all grades.
Estimated Surviving Population for the Die Variety: Rarity-3: 200 to 600 coins in all grades.
Strike: This is a well balanced coin for the assigned grade, all major design elements are bold despite a touch of softness to the denomination HALF CENT, the upper right of the wreath, the word OF in the legend, and the bow. Some sharper detail remains within Liberty's hair, the border denticulation complete on the reverse and missing only from 2 to 4 o'clock on the obverse.
Surfaces: Warmly toned in even antique copper brown, blushes of reddish-rose are intermingled here and there around the reverse periphery. Micropitting is evident throughout, a bit more so on the obverse with a light concentration around the letters TY in LIBERTY. The appearance is overall smooth and there are no sizable or otherwise noteworthy marks. There is no evidence of an undertype, although the planchet came from cut down spoiled cent stock. This is not unusual since Breen knew of only two 1802 half cents with discernible undertype.
Commentary: American numismatic issues that were great rarities in the 19th century and have remained so into the present day are special and few. For date collectors, the 1802 Draped Bust is rivaled by only the 1811 Classic Head for fame and desirability within the half cent series. In addition to their absolute scarcity -- no more than 600 or so coins are believed extant for both die marriages combined -- survivors almost universally show heavy wear and dark, rough planchets. Apparently the spoiled planchet stock that the Mint used for this issue was of unusually poor quality. On the other hand, Mint employees appear to have taken extra time to roll out the cut down cents, for no examples of either 1802/0 variety are known on thick planchets.
In addition to its scarcity, the 1802 half cent is famous as part of the select group of U.S. Mint issues that are unknown in Mint State. The finest survivors of this date are from the C-2 die pairing, with the very finest the Holmes-Miles-Missouri Cabinet-Pogue specimen certified EF-45 by PCGS. That coin realized $199,750 as lot 5047 in our March 2017 Pogue V sale. A couple of have been certified AU Details by PCGS, but they are impaired due to damage and/or cleaning. Most of the rest are in low grades, typically Good to Fine, with this pleasing mid grade Choice VF a noteworthy departure from the norm for this challenging key date issue.
An early die state example, this coin was likely among the 1802 C-2 half cents struck before the press run for this variety was interrupted by the C-1 pairing.
Provenance: From the ESM Collection. Earlier from Superior's September 21, 22, 1998 Auction, lot 1037; Heritage's sale of the Colonel Steven Ellsworth Collection of U.S. Half Cents, May 2008 Long Beach Signature Auction, lot 1653.
Click here for certification details from PCGS.