Half Eagle -> 1859-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

Along with the 1860-C, the 1859-C half eagle has one of the most distinctive patterns of strike of any United States gold coin. The obverse of the 1859-C is generally sharp with good definition noted on the relief details. The reverse is an entirely different story with extreme die rust causing a severe loss of detail. It is not certain why this inferior quality die was used or what caused it to produce such a poor impression. The surfaces are often extremely abraded and this fact, combined with the rust seen on the reverse, makes it nearly impossible to find an example with good eye appeal. The luster is better than one might expect and original examples show very pleasing orange-gold hues. Of the 140-150 pieces in existence, well over 80% grade Extremely Fine or less. There are around twenty known in About Uncirculated plus five in Mint State. Ironically, the finest known Charlotte half eagle of any date (a coin which has been graded MS-66 by PCGS) is an 1859-C; despite the fact that its reverse shows the aforementioned die rust and loss of detail.

Condition Census

  1. RARCOA inventory, repurchased for $104,500 when sold as Lot 515 in Stack's 5/95 sale, ex Elrod collection, Stack's 10/88: 87, Les Fox, Paramount's session of Auction 87: 427, Southern collector, Bowers and Ruddy Eliasberg collection (10/82): 483 (at $8,800), John Clapp (1942), Elmer Sears (1910). Graded MS-66 by PCGS. The finest known Charlotte half eagle of any date.
  2. Private collection, ex Elrod collection, Stack's 10/82: 1341. Graded MS-63 by NGC. This is the "Elrod duplicate." At one time, this collection contained the two finest known examples of this date simultaneously.
  3. North Georgia collection, ex Stack's 12/94: 1418, R.T. Wilder collection. Graded MS-62 by NGC.
  4. David Akers' John Jay Pittman Collection sale, Part One (10/97): 1021, ex Ben Douglas' MANA sale (10/57): 177. Later graded MS-62 by NGC.
  5. Paul Dingler collection. Graded MS-60 by PCGS. The coin illustrated on this web site.