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Overview Half Eagle
Capped Bust right
Capped Bust Left
Capped Bust Left Half Eagle - 1807 - 1834
Designer: John Reich
Diameter:± 25 millimeters
Weight: 8.748 grams
Content: 91.7% gold 8.3% silver and copper
Mint Mark Location: None (All were struck in Philadelphia)
Capped Bust, 1807 - 1813
The old Robert Scot capped bust facing left was replaced when John Reich was employed
as assistant engraver at the mint. The large, loose-fitting cap (some called it a
"turban") was replaced by a smaller cap on liberty. The Heraldic Eagle
was also replaced with an upright eagle whose wings are spread outwards.
Capped Head, Large Date 1813 - 1828
The half eagle was the only U.S. gold coin produced in 1813. There are two reasons
that may be responsible for this: First, bankers were the ones who brought gold to
the Mint for coinage came generally from banks. Bankers seemed to prefer half eagles
for use as reserves and for international commerce. Second, the United States had a
fixed silver-to-gold ratio which put the U.S. at a disadvantage with the international
ratios of the two metals (it took less silver to buy an ounce of gold in the U.S.
than it did in Europe).
This trading cycle continued until gold nearly disappeared
from circulation in the U.S. As a result, in spite of high mintage numbers, most
half eagles ended up as bullion.
Capped Head, Small Date 1829 - 1834
Tall 5 / Small 5 Example
Wide Date / Narrow Date Example
Census/population reports estimate the 1813 business strike at 120 examples. Many
dates are estimated at fewer than 20 examples. The 1822 half eagle with three know
examples is considered one of the rarest U.S. coins of all (two of the three are
permanently housed in the Smithsonian Institution). Thus, they have been described
as the "greatest rarities in American numismatics", "impressive for its rarity",
and "the most difficult of all half-eagle designs to obtain."