1821 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, PCGS Coin of the Month

Coin of the Month
1821 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, PCGS PR65CAM, obverse.

The 1821 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, PCGS PR65CAM is the Professional Grading Service’s (PCGS) Coin of the Month.

Early U.S. Gold Coinage

Coin of the Month
1821 Capped Head Left Half Eagle, PCGS PR65CAM, reverse.

Early United States gold coinage has broad appeal for its rarity, beauty, and history. Noted for its scarcity is the Capped Head gold coinage of the 1820s, which includes the widely circulated half eagles bearing a face value of $5. These coins were among the workhorse gold coinage of the day and represented a sizeable sum of money at a time when a typical laborer might earn $1 a day. These coins could have represented a week’s wages, and they were useful for facilitating a number of other frequent, if significant, transactions. The U.S. Mint produced an array of die marriages for this denomination, and among them was this 1821 beauty cataloged BD-1, JD-1.

Owned by Legendary Collectors

This 1821 Capped Head Left Half Eagle variety was once owned by legendary collectors Col. E.H.R. Green, King Farouk of Egypt, and the Norweb family collection. It’s the only proof version in private hands and was previously offered in 1987, when legendary collector Harry W. Bass, Jr. bought it for $198,000. It resided for 35 years in his collection, which was eventually bequeathed to the American Numismatic Association Money Museum and spent two decades on public display.

The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation decided in 2022 to sell the collection with proceeds going to assist various Dallas-area organizations. When this 1821 Half Eagle pattern hit the Heritage Auctions block on September 29, 2022, it inspired fervent bidding. The hammer fell on this ultra-rarity graded Proof-65 Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service at a record price of $4,620,000 – one of the highest prices ever paid for a pattern.

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