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.
If viewed as a date, the 1846-D is similar in rarity to the 1844-D and 1845-D half eagles. However, the two major varieties of the 1846-D half eagle have been collected as separate, distinct issues for many years and are, therefore, listed as such in this book. The 1846-D Normal Mintmark half eagles is one of the rarest issues in this series in high grades and until very recently it has been overlooked by almost all collectors.
The 1846-D Normal Mintmark half eagle is scarce in all grades. It is usually found in Very Fine to Extremely Fine grades. It is very rare in About Uncirculated and just a small handful of pieces are known which grade higher than About Uncirculated-50. This variety is excessively rare in full Mint State.
STRIKE: This variety is generally not as well struck as the 1846-D over D. The Normal Mintmark coins have a slightly flat overall appearance on the obverse. This is most noticeable on the hair of Liberty and on the denticles below and to the left of the date. The reverse is better struck than the obverse with the exception of the arrow feathers and the eagle’s right leg which is often weak.
SURFACES: Almost every known example has very heavily abraded surfaces. It appears that 1846-D Normal Mintmark half eagles went directly into circulation and stayed there for a long period of time. As a result, they show signs of rough handling. Many have very deep, detracting marks. Others display numismatic abuse and original, uncleaned pieces are seldom seen.
LUSTER: Due to the fact that most examples of this date are well worn and heavily abraded, few 1846-D Normal Mintmark half eagles show much remaining luster. When present, the luster is frosty with a slightly grainy texture.
COLORATION: Most have been cleaned and show unnatural coloration. Original, uncleaned pieces have medium green-gold coloration with occasional splashes of coppery-orange toning. There are very few known with original color.
EYE APPEAL: The 1846-D Normal Mintmark half eagle is an extremely hard coin to find with good eye appeal. The typical example shows and average quality strike, numerous abrasions, little if any luster and unnatural coloration. Pieces with good eye appeal are very rare and they command strong premiums.
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: This is one of the rarest Dahlonega half eagles in high grades. In About Uncirculated-50 and above, the 1846-D Normal Mintmark should sell for a strong premium over the 1846-D/D but it does not. This is primarily due to the fact most price reporting mechanisms for Dahlonega gold coinage do not distinguish between the two.
DIE VARIETIES: Three die varieties are known.
Variety 14-I: On this variety, the date is high with the 6 closer to the neck than to the denticles. The reverse is the same as described above for the 1845-D Variety 12-I and 13-I.
Variety 15-J: On this variety, the date is low with the 6 much closer to the denticles than on Obverse 14. This reverse is a repolished and worn use of the D over D mintmark.
Variety 16-K: On this variety, the 1 in the date is placed over the center of a denticle. The 1 is very low and the date is closer to the denticles than on the other two obverses employed to strike 1846-D Normal Mintmark half eagles. On the reverse, the mintmark is slightly high but it does not lean to the right as on reverse J.
David Akers (1975/88):
The 1846-D is comparable in overall rarity to the 1843-D, 1844-D and 1845-D. Uncirculated examples are known but they are very rare and the grade one can usually expect to find is only VF or EF. One variety exists with a widely spaced, double punched mintmark. Although occasionally touted as a rarity (it is certainly unusual and interesting) it is actually no more rare than the variety with the normal mintmark.
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