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CLASSIC HEAD HALF EAGLES (1834-1838)
Classic Head Half Eagle

CLASSIC HEAD HALF EAGLES (1834-1838): William Kneass designed the Classic Head Half Eagle, which was minted from 1834 to 1838. He chose to use Reich’s Classic Head motif that was used on large cents of 1808 to 1814. Kneass also adapted Reich’s eagle from the five dollar piece of 1807. The design of the Classic Head Half Eagle shows a profile of Liberty facing left. Her curly hair is held with a band that is inscribed LIBERTY. She is surrounded by thirteen six-pointed stars, with the date below. Around the periphery of the Classic Head Half Eagle are dentils on both sides. The coin has a reeded edge. The reverse of the Classic Head Half Eagle shows a heraldic eagle whose head is turned to the left. In its talons it holds the olive branch and arrows, symbols peace and preparedness.

The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA appears in an interrupted arc around the coin with the denomination, written as 5 D. below. Missing is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, which was removed from the reverse of the Classic Head Half Eagle to signify the change in weight from 135 grains to 129. It seems that Mint Director Samuel Moore was looking for a reason to phase out the motto for several years, and the change in weight mandated by Congress was the perfect opportunity. The weight and fineness of the coin were changed in order to prevent continued melting for bullion purposes. As a result most of the original gold coins that were minted prior to1834 were turned in to the mint, much of it to be used to make the new half eagles.

William Kneass (pronounced Niece) was the second Chief Engraver. He served from 1824 until his death in 1840. In addition to the Classic Head Half Eagle, his classic head motif was used on the quarter eagles of 1834 to 1839. Kneass modified Reich’s Capped Bust motif for silver coinage for the years 1829 to 1837 and the half dime in 1829.

For the last five years of his life, Kneass suffered from the results of a severe stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side. For those years, his assistant Christian Gobrecht did the die and pattern work at the Mint. When Kneass died in 1840, Gobrecht succeeded him as Chief Engraver.

Mintages of the Classic Head Half Eagle varied from a high in 1834 of 657,460 to a low of 17,179 in 1838 at the new Mint in Charlotte.

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 8.359 grams (129.0 grains) (.2687 troy ounces)
Diameter: 22.5 millimeters
Composition: (1834 - 1836) 89.92% gold, 10.08% silver & copper ; (1837 - 1838) 90% gold, 10% copper
Gold Content: (1834 - 1836) 7.516 grams (115.989 grains) (0.2416 troy ounces) ; (1837 - 1838) 7.523 grams (116.097 grains) (0.2418 troy ounces)

DATE NOTES
Comes with Plain or Crosslet 4s in the date. The Plain 4 type, the much more common variety, comes with Fancy or Block 8's in the date. The Plain 4 is common up to MS64 and rare in Gem and above grades. The Crosslet 4 is rare in all MS grades; 8 proofs have been certified for the date.
Common in most grades up to MS64. None have been certified in Gem or above grades; 2 proofs have been certified for the date, one a UCAM68.
This is the second most common date in the series. However, Gem examples are rare with only 4 certified by both services; 4 proofs have been certified for the date, 2 are UCAM67.
Comes with Fancy or Block 8s in the date. Rare in Gem and above grades with 5 MS65 and above examples certified, 3 of which are MS66.
Obtainable in most grades but rare above MS64. Only 3 MS65s and 1 MS66 have been certified; 1 SP65 has been certified for the date.
This is the lowest mintage of the type. Only 5 have been certified in MS grades. Only 2 MS63s are the highest.
This is the first year of issue at Dahlonega. The D mintmark appears on the obverse above the date. Only 20 coins have been graded in Mint State. The finest are 3 MS63s.
Half Eagle Gold Coins for Sale


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Classic Head Half Eagles - Classic Head Five Dollars - Half Eagles


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