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.
Beginning with this issue, the mintage figures for Dahlonega half eagles decrease appreciably. The 1855-D, like the 1857-D, is a scarce and underrated coin.
The 1855-D half eagle is usually found in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades. It is rare in About Uncirculated and most pieces in this grade range are no better than About Uncirculated-50. It is very rare in the higher About Uncirculated grades and it is extremely rare in full Mint State.
STRIKE: Many show noticeable weakness of strike at the centers. On the obverse, the curls below IBER in LIBERTY are weak while the back of the hair below the bun and the back of the neck appear very flat. This weakness corresponds to the reverse where the neck of the eagle, the shield and the top of both legs are also weak. A small number exist, however, with good overall detail at the centers. On all examples, the stars at the right appear somewhat smaller and more delicately formed than those on the left. The rims are round and have a beveled appearance but the denticles are sharp and well formed.
SURFACES: This issue is nearly always found with heavily abraded surfaces. Some are known with clean surfaces and these are quite desirable. A small number exist which have the sharpness of Mint State but which are matte-like surfaces due to seawater exposure. They are generally accorded the value of Extremely Fine coins.
LUSTER: The typical 1855-D half eagle has somewhat subdued luster which is frosty in texture. Many have been cleaned or dipped and the original luster is impaired as a result.
COLORATION: Uncleaned, original pieces can show very pleasing coloration. The hues seen most often are light orange-gold and deeper rose-gold. This is an extremely hard issue to locate with original coloration as most have been cleaned or dipped.
EYE APPEAL: Probably around three-quarters of the extant 1855-D half eagles show very flat centers. This affects their overall eye appeal and makes them difficult to properly grade. Sharply struck, original examples are very rare.
DIE VARIETIES: There are currently two die varieties known.
Variety 32-AA: Large Mintmark. On the obverse, the date is well centered in the field and it is not near the neck or the denticles. The upright of the mintmark is over the gap between the V and E in FIVE. The left edge of the mintmark is over the center of the right diagonal of the V while the right edge is over the right edge of the middle segment of the E. The mintmark is away from the stem and well below the feather.
This is the more common of the two varieties.
Variety 32-W: Medium Mintmark. The obverse is the same as on the last. The reverse appears to be the same as on Reverse W from 1854.
This variety is considerably scarcer.
David Akers (1975/88):
The 1855-D has a much lower mintage than the 1855-C but it is of comparable overall rarity. It is more rare in all grades than any of the D Mint coins from 1843 to 1854 except for the underrated 1848-1850 coins, and the 1851-D in strictly uncirculated condition. Most known specimens are VF to EF and even correctly graded AU coins are very rare. I have seen a number of "salt water" AU-Unc. pieces but only two original uncirculated specimens.
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