The Arlington Collection Image Gallery

Selected Favorite Coins from A.C. Dwyer's Type Collection

About the Coin

"Why the 1857-S?" you may ask. Although the 1857-S may seem a fairly common half eagle, it is the date of 1857 that interests me. It is the year I have chosen to put together a Year Set. My goal is to acquire one example of each coin type and mint mark for the year 1857.

I chose this 1857-S half eagle for the year set because of its beautiful original coloring and very nice surfaces for a coin graded MS-62. The fact that it was pedigreed to Harry Bass Jr. was just icing on the cake. Harry Bass Jr. was one of the most famous collectors having an almost complete collection of U.S. gold coins. He emphasized quality which is evident in this coin.

In October 1999, this coin went to auction in the Bass Part II Sale (lot 1101). At that time, it was the finest example in a PCGS holder (pop 1: none finer). The coin's earlier pedigree traces back to a Superior Auction in February 1973 (lot 444) and obtained from the Northern California Estate years earlier.

The Liberty Head half eagle was a very long running series as they were struck from 1839 through 1908. During those 70 years, not a single year was missed although there were a few years with very small mintages such as the 1875 with only 200 half eagles struck in Philadelphia. 1866 saw the one major design change when the motto "In God We Trust" was added to the reverse.

The cool thing about the series is that you can collect an example from each of the following mints: Carson City, Charlotte, Dahlonega, Denver, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Weight: 8.359 grams
Diameter: approx. 21.6mm, reeded edge
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper

1857-S $5 Gold Half Eagle

Liberty Head No Motto — Harry Bass Jr.

1857-S $5 Gold Half Eagle Harry Bass Jr. Obverse
1857-S $5 Gold Half Eagle Harry Bass Jr. Reverse

The Arlington Collection of U.S. Type Coins