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Obverse of 1833 Half Eagle     Reverse of 1833 Half Eagle


PCGS No: 8157, 8158, 8167


Circulation strikes:
Proofs: estimated 2-3

Designer: John Reich & Robert Scot, modified by William Kneass

Diameter: 23.8 millimeters

Metal content:
Gold - 91.7%
Silver and Copper - 8.3%

Weight: 135 grains (8.748 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mintmark: None (all dates of this type were struck at Philadelphia)

The 1833 Half Eagle is an extremely rare coin in any grade although the high mintage might suggest otherwise.  The vast majority of these coins were returned to the Mint and remelted beginning in 1834, following a reduction in the weight of the coins.  Major varieties are determined based on the size (or width) of the dates on the coins: they are known as Large or Small Dates.  The Large Date is the more common of the two by a factor of 3 (or more) to 1.

As of July 2003, PCGS had graded 19 of the Large Date varieties, most of them in Uncirculated condition, and the finest of which were 2 MS-64's.  PCGS had also graded a single Proof example of the Large Date variety (a superb PR-67 which is probably the Pittman coin illustrated above).  PCGS had also graded only six examples of the Small Date variety - 2 AU-58, and singles of MS-60, MS-61, MS-64, MS-65.  

No Proof examples of the 1833 Small Date Half Eagle are known and only two examples of the 1833 Large Date Half Eagle are known.  One is a part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution; the other is the Pittman coin illustrated above (graded PR-67 by PCGS).  In the Pittman catalogue, David Akers noted:  "At least two other specimens purported to be Proofs have turned out to be Prooflike business strikes."  This may or may not apply to the third Proof listed by Breen (Lot 314 in S.H. & Henry Chapman's May 10, 1893 sale of the Nicholas Petry collection).

Images courtesy of David Akers Numismatics, Inc.

Small Date
Large Date

Significant examples:
Gem Proof (illustrated above).  Ex - J. Colvin Randall, Lot 938 - New York Coin & Stamp Co.'s sale of the Lorin G. Parmalee collection, June 25, 1890, Lot 1021 - Stack's sale of the Col. James W. Flanagan, March 23, 1944, Lot 1109 - J.F. Bell, Lot 355 - Sotheby's sale of the King Farouk collection, March 1954, Lot 246a, approximately $635 - David Akers Numismatics, Inc.'s sale of the John Jay Pittman collection, October 21-23, 1997, Lot 933 - Al Adams

NGC Proof-58.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries "The Rarities Sale", July 31, 2002, Lot 784, illustrated, "...Breen-6498, B-11...The fields have very light hairlines and the devices have nearly imperceptible signs of wear...", sold for $62,100.00  This may be the Nicholas Petry specimen sold by S.H. and H. Chapman in 1893 (see the Notes)

Sources and/or recommended reading:

"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia Of U.S. And Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen

"The PCGS Population Report, July 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service