The Survival Estimate represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in three categories: 1) all grades, 2) 60 or better, and 3) 65 or better. These estimates are based on a variety of sources, including population reports, auction appearances, and personal knowledge. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Numismatic Rarity converts the Survival Estimate for a particular coin into a number from 1 to 10 (with decimal increments) based on the PCGS Rarity Scale. The higher the number, the more rare the coin.
Relative Rarity By Type
Relative Rarity By Type ranks the rarity of this coin with all other coins of this Type. Lower numbers indicate rarer coins.
Relative Rarity By Series
Relative Rarity By Series ranks the rarity of this coin with all other coins of this Series. Lower numbers indicate rarer coins.
In 1840, the design of the half eagle was modified. The new head has a neck that is less curved and positioned slightly differently than the head of 1839. In addition, the mintmark was placed on the reverse, where it would stay on all regular issue United States gold coins struck through 1933. Thus the 1840-D is an important issue as it is the first Dahlonega half eagle with the modified Liberty Head design.
The 1840-D half eagle is most often seen in Very Fine to Extremely Fine grades. It is scarce in the lower About Uncirculated grades and rare in the upper range of this grade. It is extremely rare in Uncirculated.
STRIKE: The quality of strike is above average. Interestingly, 1840-D half eagles are often found with a much better strike than the other two branch mint half eagles struck in 1840 as both the Charlotte and New Orleans issues are not known for having good strikes. The central details on the obverse and the reverse are nearly always well-defined on the 1840-D half eagle. The borders are more likely to show weakness with some pieces having blurry denticles at the lower obverse and the lower reverse.
SURFACES: It is very hard to find an example which does not show conspicuous abrasions on the surfaces. In addition, a number show mint-made problems such as granular areas or laminations.
LUSTER: The luster on this date is very distinctive. It is frosty and has a pleasing soft appearance which does not resemble the texture seen on other Dahlonega half eagles struck during the first two years of production at this mint.
COLORATION: Uncleaned, original 1840-D half eagles are most often seen with deep green-gold or orange-green color. There are a few more original pieces known than for the 1839-D half eagle but most seen have been stripped of their color as a result of having been dipped or cleaned.
EYE APPEAL: This is a difficult issue to find with good eye appeal. Most 1840-D half eagles are heavily marked and most have their original surfaces stripped-off from repeated cleanings. Any example which has good eye appeal routinely sells for a strong premium over a typical coin.
DIE VARIETIES: According to Walter Breen, varieties of 1840-D half eagles are known which have a Broad Mill (as on half eagles struck from 1834 through 1839) and a Narrow Mill (the diameter seen on half eagles struck from 18941 through 1907). Breen believed that 4,437 1840-F half eagles with a diameter of 22.5 mm were coined on February 1840. The remainder were struck later in the year and had a diameter of 21.65 mm.
The comprehensive study yet undertaken on half eagle diameters was performed by Q. David Bowers on pages 265 and 266 of the October, 1987 Norweb Collection sale catalog. The 1840-D half eagle in the Norweb sale (Lot 801) had a diameter of 21.8 mm and was, this, designated as a Narrow Mill coin.
It is my belief that all 1840-D half eagles have a Narrow Mill (note: the term mill refers to the upset rim outside of the denticulated border of a coin). However, I think the possibility does exist that there are 1840-D half eagles with a Broad Mill. As more people begin to examine their Dahlonega coins for varieties, this riddle should be answered once and for all.
Variety 4-C: Small D. The date is level in the field between the bust and the denticles. The upright of the 4 in the date is centered over a denticle. The first three digits show the remains of previously cut digits at the lower right. Most significant are the remains of an earlier 8 that run through the center of the lower loop of the 8 in the date and out the right side to the crossbar of the 4 in the date. The reverse has a Small D mintmark with a narrow opening that is about the same width as the upright of the mintmark. The upright of the mintmark is positioned over the gap between the inner serifs of the two diagonals of the V in FIVE. A die crack runs from the rim through the right diagonal of the V, through the right side of the mintmark, through the feather and branch stem and on into the shield.
This variety appears to be rare.
David Akers (1975/88):
The 1840-D is less rare than the 1840-C but it is comparable in overall rarity to the popular 1839-D. Generally, it is more well struck than the 1840-C. The typically available specimen is VF or EF and AU or uncirculated pieces are extremely rare. Both the broad mill and narrow mill varieties exist but most of the known specimens are narrow mill coins.
Quickfinder Notes: The Small D looks like it is compressed and has very thick walls. It appears to be WIDER than it is TALL. The Tall D has thin walls and looks "streached out". It appears TALLER than it is WIDE. According to the Sept, 2012 population report, the Small D is many times rarer than the Tall D variety. The Small D has only two AU-55 pieces at the top of the census. Whereas the Tall D boasts six Mint State specimens; Three MS-62s and three MS-61s.
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