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.

This is the only pattern made from this obverse die which is believed to be an original. The reverse die is in its earliest known state with die cracks only through "F Dollar * America". At least one was restruck 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, 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 would thus make this possibly the first coin deliberately struck for sale to collectors.

About a dozen are known with the former Garrett coin being an especially beautiful example. The illustrated example, from the Smithsonian, is a mint error in which the reverse is double struck with about a 20 degree rotation between strikes as shown in the image below courtesy of Rick Kay. The original image is most noticeable below the eagle's tail feathers as it touches the "R" in "Dollar".

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, no lightweight (192 grain) restrikes have been confirmed.

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

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