There are a few relatively unknown but
numismatically significant varieties of early
United States gold coinage that I think are
likely to be included in comprehensive
collections of these issues as they become
more popular with collectors. Here are a few
of the “secret” varieties that I would suggest
collectors be on the lookout for.
Close Date and Wide Date Quarter Eagles.
Despite this date’s low mintage figure, it
remains undervalued in comparsion to the other
18th century quarter eagles. There are two
distinct varieties known. The more avilable
and better known of the two is the Wide Date
(BD-2) on which the four digits in the date
are quite widely spaced. An easy way to
distinguish this variety is by the presence of
five berries on the reverse. There are an
estimated four to five dozen known in all
The “secret” variety for this year is the
Close Date. This variety has only four berries
on the reverse. It is very rare in all grades
with around two dozen or so known.
Close Fraction and Distant Fraction Quarter
There are not many die varieties in the
short-lived Capped Bust Large Size type of
1821-1827 but there are actually three
varieties for the 1825.
Two of the varieties show a distant
fraction on the reverse with the numerals
relatively far from the fraction bar. The more
common (BD-2) has a 5 in the date that leans
far to the left and which is placed below the
2. The rarer variety (BD-1) and the 5 more
upright and even with the 2. There are as many
as 90-100 known of the former while the latter
remains very rare and apears to have fewer
than ten accounted for.
The third variety of 1825 quarter eagle
(BD-3) has the same reverse as seen on the
1826 quarter eagle with a very close fraction
where the numerals touch the fraction bar. It
is also very rare, although not as much so as
BD-1. I would estimate that around a dozen
In the half eagle series, there are many
interesting “secret” varieties; enough so that
I am only going to mention a few here.
Small Eagle Half Eagles.
There are no less than dozen varieties of
1795 Small Eagle half eagles known. To me, the
most interesting are the blundered reverse
with the the final S in STATES erroneously
punched over a D. There are two die varieties
known that have this impressive reverse.
The first variety, BD-5, is recognizable by
the left side of the 1 in the date touching
the curl. It is extremely rare with fewer than
ten known. The second variety, BD-6, has the
date free of the curl. This is a much more
available coin with as many as 75-90 pieces
known. The S/D in STATES half eagles do not
generally sell for a premium but they have a
very high “coolness” factor due to the
spectacular blunder on the reverse that is
easily visible to the naked eye.
The 1798 Large Eagle half eagles are
fertile ground for variety collectors. There
are coins with a Small or “Normal” 8 in the
date as well as those with a Large 8. The
Large 8 coins exist with thirteen and fourteen
stars on the reverse.
The “secret” variety is the 1798 Large 8
with fourteen reverse stars. While this
variety already sells for a premium over the
more common Large 8 with thirteen stars, what
makes it interesting is that there is only one
die variety known (BD-3). Only three dozen or
so exist in all grades and the importance of
this coin as a distinct naked-eye variety is
only now being understood by specialists.
This is another very fertile year for
variety collectors with an amazing nine
varieties known. Seven of these have small
reverse stars while two have large stars on
The “secret” variety for 1799 half eagles
is the large reverse stars. There are two die
varieties known. The first, BD-5, is easy to
recognize by the last 9 being too high and
recut to the right. There are two to three
dozen known. The second, BD-8, has the last 9
even with the first and there is no recutting.
This variety is slightly rarer overall and it
appears to be extremely rare in high grades.
There are a number of varieties in the half
eagle series produced from 1800 through 1807
but these tend not to generate as much
collector interest. In a future blog, I will
be discussing the ones that have the greatest
appeal to me.