Selected Favorite Coins from A.C. Dwyer's Type Collection
About the Coin
The Capped Head half eagle was struck from 1813 through 1834. This type of half eagle was only struck at the Philadelphia mint and in 1829, the diameter of the coin was reduced to 23.8mm due to new equipment being installed at the mint.
Designed by Assistant Engraver John Reich, the portrait of Miss Liberty was said by 19th century writer William DuBois to have been modeled after "Reich's fat German mistress."
There are two main varieties of the 1820 half eagle where the base of the 2 in the date is either curved or square (flat). However, there are up to nine sub-varieties with four of those being of the square base 2 type as is this example from The Arlington Collection. Specifically this coin is of the BD-2 varieity where star 13 is attached to the bust and broadly recut at the bottom.
Although 1820 has the largest mintage for the type, the BD-2 variety is one of the most rare varieties. Only 20-25 examples are believed to exist. In a Heritage Auction of a "cleaned" example in 2006, Heritage had this to say about the BD-2 variety, "Our records indicate that the present piece is only the third example of BD-2 to appear in a Heritage Signature auction this decade."
Designer: John Reich
Weight: 8.75 grams
Diameter: approx. 25mm, reeded edge
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper