Half Eagle -> 1856-C


  • Half Eagle 1838 - 1861
  • Liberty Head 1839 - 1861
  • Diameter: 22.5 millimeters
  • Fineness: .900
  • Weight: 129 grains
  • Designer: Christian Gobrecht
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Coiner: John R. Bolton

This is often regarded as a common date. However, it is actually very scarce in all grades and very rare in About Uncirculated-50 or better. Most are seen with a somewhat soft strike. There are just a handful of 1856-C half eagles which are not covered with deep and very detracting abrasions in the fields. The luster is often below average and the color is seldom original due to the fact that so many have been cleaned or dipped. Any 1856-C half eagle with even average quality eye appeal is very scarce. There are an estimated 90-100 known. Of these, only 16-18 grade About Uncirculated and most of the examples in this grade range are in the low end. There is just a single Mint State coin currently known, which is illustrated below. If the collector is looking for an underrated, undervalued Charlotte half eagle, he should pay close attention to the 1856-C.

Condition Census

  1. Paul Dingler collection, ex Elrod collection. Graded MS-61 by PCGS. Unique in Mint State and the coin illustrated on this web site.
  2. (tie) Three coins have been graded AU-58 by PCGS. I have not seen two of these and am not aware of their pedigree or current location; the third was owned by Doug Winter/Lee Minshull ca. 1/98 and is now in a private collection.
  3. (tie) NGC has graded four coins AU-58. These are as follows:
    • North Carolina collection, ex Doug Winter/Lee Minshull via Paul Dingler.
    • Private collection ex Blanchard and Company, 1/98.
    • RARCOA 11/30/95: 2618, ex Stack's 5/95: 501, Ed Milas collection. NGC graded AU-58.
    • The location of the third piece is not known to me.
    • A coin in a North Georgia collection, graded AU-55 by PCGS, is very choice for the grade and is equal to the NGC AU-58's described above.