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.
Although most people are not aware of this, the 1850-D is among the rarest Dahlonega half eagles in terms of its overall and high grade rarity levels.
The 1850-D is a scarce date in all grades. It is most often seen in Very Fine and Extremely Fine. It is rare in accurately graded About Uncirculated-50 and it becomes very rare in any level of About Uncirculated higher than this. The 1850-D half eagle is exceedingly rare in Mint State with just one to three coins currently known to exist.
STRIKE: The date shows a below average strike, especially in comparison to some of the preceding Dahlonega half eagles. The obverse has a soft appearance. This lack of detail is most noticeable on the hair below BERT in LIBERTY, the hair at the top of Liberty’s head and at the first four or five stars. The reverse has a sharper strike but it is always weak on the neck of the eagle, both legs and the arrow feathers. Most examples have a weak mintmark and on some it is so weak that it is nearly invisible. Pieces which show a well-defined mintmark are very rare and much more desirable than those with a weak “D.”
SURFACES: The 1850-D is almost always seen with heavily abraded surfaces. The fields show deep, detracting marks and it is not uncommon to find examples with severe, impairing marks on the face of Liberty.
LUSTER: Many exhibit dull, inferior luster. This date is sometimes seen with decent luster which has a frosty texture. Pieces such as this are quite rare.
COLORATION: The coloration on uncleaned, original coins ranges from deep green-gold to medium yellow-gold. The majority of 1850-D half eagles have been cleaned and/or dipped and, therefore, do not display their natural coloration.
EYE APPEAL: This is one of the most difficult Dahlonega half eagles to locate with good eye appeal. Most are found with poor strikes, weak mintmarks, heavily abraded surfaces and dull, lackluster surfaces. The few which have above-average eye appeal are coveted by collectors and sell for very strong premiums over “typical” quality pieces.
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: For collectors putting together a very high grade set of Dahlonega half eagles, the 1850-D has long been a source of quiet frustration. This date does not get much publicity yet it is probably unknown in strict Uncirculated and only a small number have ever been graded Mint State by PCGS or NGC. Something caused the 1850-D to be much more actively used in commerce than other Dahlonega half eagles of this era. As a result, it is nearly always found well-worn.
DIE VARIETIES: Two die varieties are currently known.
Variety 23-O: On the obverse, the date is high and the 1 is close to the truncation. The upright of the mintmark is positioned over the right serif of the right diagonal of the V in FIVE. The mintmark is away from the stem and the upper serif of the mintmark is joined to the feather while its right edge is placed over the right edge of the middle segment of the E in FIVE.
Coins exist with a perfect reverse and with varying cracks through UNITED STATES and FIVE D.
Variety 24-P: On the obverse, the date is very high with the 1 merging with the truncation. The mintmark touches the branch and is far from the feathers. It is tilted to the right and is position above the right serif of the V in FIVE.
David Akers (1975/88):
As was the case with the 1850-C, the mintmark on the 1850-D is quite often so weak as to be visible only on close inspection. This date is a major rarity in grades above EF and it is actually quite rare just as a date. I have never seen a specimen that graded full AU. The 1850-D, along with the 1849-D, is quite possibly the most underrated D Mint Half Eagle in high grade after the 1842-D Large Date, Large Letters.
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