Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $10 (1838-1907)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 25,801
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 16.7200g
AGW: 0.4837oz
Melt Value: $619.14 (10/20/2017)
Diameter: 27mm
Edge: Reeded
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1839 LG LET HEAD OF 38 $10 MS obverse 1839 LG LET HEAD OF 38 $10 MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

The most comprehensive background to the 1838-39 type is given in Breen's 1988 Encyclopedia, which we quote here in part: 'Verbal orders of President Jefferson had stopped mintage of eagles as of December 31, 1804. But in July 1838, after two different acts altering the weight and fineness standard of U.S. gold coins, the Secretary of Treasury instructed Mint Director Robert Patterson to resume coinage of this denomination at once. Acting Engraver Christian Gobrecht prepared new dies, and on Dec. 6, four 'specimens' (proofs?) went to the Secretary of Treasury, followed by 7,200 business strikes. Gobrecht copied the head of Venus in Benjamin West's recent painting Omnia Vincit Amor, (Love Conquers All) with slightly changed headdress but with the same triple beaded cord on her bun, and the same coronet (here inscribed LIBERTY), this is the same prototype used for the latest style of cents in 1839, differently modified. A very similar obverse design was resurrected in 1839 for pattern half dollars, with the head reversed and the curl on the back of Liberty's neck removed (see Judd-91 to 96 or Pollock 101-108). A slicked-up version of the old John Reich eagle served for reverse, on 1839 'Type I' (Type of 1838) this is called large letters.'

In 1839 the design produced in 1838 was struck again, and later in the year the design was modified to the more familiar Coronet style that was used on tens until 1907. Thus, the year 1839 saw two low mintage design rarities created. The former has in the past been called the '1839 Large Letters' type, while the second issue has been known as the '1839 Small Letters.' These labels have proved inadequate to describe the minute differences in letter sizes used, and in recent years (since the publication of David Akers' reference on eagles) the terms 'Type of '38' and 'Type of '40' have come to be more generally accepted.

The second year of Gobrecht's new design saw 25,801 eagles produced, but only a handful of pieces have been certified in Mint condition with this being the finest known. In this two-year series where an XF or AU coin is a significant offering, the importance of this extraordinary coin cannot be overemphasized to both date and type collectors.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 6/27/2017

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1839 LG LET HEAD OF 38 $10 MS
Base $ 975 1150 1450 2250 4300 6350 8900 13300 17000 29750 35500 46000 97500 185000 375000 625000 - - - -
$ - - - 15000 - - - - - - - - - -

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Total Graded: 166
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 64

Upcoming Auctions

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Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/3/2017 AU 50   Heritage Auctions 2017 November 1 & 3 Eric P. Newman Collection Part IX US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(1), 1260/Lot# 15107

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
9/23/2007 NGC AU 58   Goldberg September 23-26, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 42/Lot# 3355 $12,650.00
6/13/2010 NGC XF 45   Teletrade Auction 2870, 2870/Lot# 2884 $3,105.00
10/13/2011 NGC AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2011 October 13-16 US Coins Signature Auction #1160- Pittsburgh Session(3), 1160/Lot# 4987 $12,650.00
2/28/2012 PCGS AU 53   Stack's Bowers The March 2012 Baltimore Auction, 135/Lot# 4334 $10,062.50
8/5/2014 PCGS Genuine AU   Heritage Auctions 2014 August 5, 7 & 9 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Chicago Session(2), 1208/Lot# 3979 $4,993.75
2/16/2017 PCGS AU 53   Heritage Auctions 2017 February 16 - 19 Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(2), 1252/Lot# 3990 $6,462.50
8/2/2017 NGC AU 55   Heritage Auctions 2017 August 2 - 6 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Denver Session(5), 1258/Lot# 5695 $7,343.75

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1839 LG LET $10 MS HEAD OF 38 Prooflike
1839 LG LET $10 MS HEAD OF 38
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