Click to enlargeJ79A/P86

The flying eagle half dollar from the regular obverse die with Liberty incused on the shield. This obverse die is Judd's so-called straight date variety.



The reverse die is in its earliest known state with die cracks only through "F Dollar * America". At least one was struck by W.E. Dubois for Matthew Stickney as there is a letter dated July 12, 1843 in the Peabody Essex Museum regarding this transaction shown below courtesy of David Stone.



It is unclear if both pieces were J79a or if only one was and the other was a J73/P77. Dubois notes that he had to pay an extra $3 to have them struck. One was in the 1907 Stickney sale and was purchased by Virgil Brand and entered into his journal as #38995. If Brand owned only one - only this piece was found in the journals - then this example is the same as the one in Dr Judd's collection, as noted in Abe Kosoff's "Illustrated History of United States Coin". As this coin does not have any central die cracks, the die was still in its original state in 1843. It is very likely that all of these were struck in 1843 and, if so, would make this the first coin deliberately struck for sale to collectors. Either way, this coin represents the earliest use of the 1839 incuse Liberty "straight date" obverse on pattern pieces.

The following are confirmed:

1) Smithsonian illustrated above, click on the thumbnail to see an enlargement. This piece shows a 15 degree rotated doublestruck reverse, see illustration below courtesy of Rick Kay. The doubling is most noticeable below the eagle's tail feathers as it touches the "R" in "Dollar".

2) Byron Reed-Durham museum - ICG63, illustrated below



Photo from the Byron Reed Collection; owned by the City of Omaha, Nebraska; on loan to The Durham Museum.

3) Stacks 2/76, Crouch-Superior 6/77, Sieck-81 ANA, Queller-Heritage 5/12, Jewell-StacksBowers 8/13 PCGS64, identifiable by the irregular toning from tail to period

4) Witham-Auction 81, Queller-Heritage 1/09 NGC66

5) Frossard 5/1882, Garrett-JHU, B/R 11/1979 Garrett I, B/M 1/88, Superior 10/89 NGC67

6) Evans-B/M 8/98, Simpson-Heritage 4/21 - PCGS65

7) M.A. Brown (Chapman Brothers April 1897); J.M. Clapp; Clapp Estate, 1942, to Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Merena, 5/96), lot 233; Heritage, 5/2003, Rau-Heritage 4/18 NGC63

8) Eliasberg duplicate, Heritage 1/07 PCGS66

9) Heritage 5/09 as NCS Unc details, cleaned, Heritage 1/18 PCGS61

10) Superior 8/75 ANA, NERCA 4/80, ANR 1/2006, Dick Osburn Collection - Stack's/Bowers 8/2011 - PCGS64

11) Numismatic Ltd 8/74, Bass-B/M 5/99 PCGS62

Dr Judd's and Merkin 2/71 are possibly additional pieces.



This design was also made using the obverse with Liberty raised on the shield, the so-called 'curved date' J79/P89.

Although listed in Judd (Breen), no lightweight (192 grain) restrikes have been confirmed and are not likely to exist.

To see both obverse dies side by side, click here.

Photo courtesy of the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution.