The NGC Universal ID is a four digit alphanumeric that groups coins based on a unique combination of date, mintmark, denomination and striking process (MS, PF, or SP). These IDs are a simple organization of all coins prior to variety attribution and grading.
Any 1842-C half eagle is a valuable and scarce coin, but when die varieties are considered, one sticks out: the Small Date, which forms a distinct, small minority of survivors. Doug Winter, in his Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint, gives an excellent summation of this prized rarity: 'There were two varieties of half eagle struck at the Charlotte Mint in 1842. It is easy to determine that the Small Date coins were struck first as they show the same date size as on the Charlotte half eagles dated 1840 and 1841.
The 1842-C Small Date is the rarest Charlotte half eagle. It is also the second rarest Charlotte coin, trailing the excessively rare 1849-C Open Wreath gold dollar. This variety has long been considered a full-fledged member of the Charlotte half eagle series and no date set is truly complete without an example.'
Out of a blanket mintage of 27,578 pieces, Winter assigns a mintage of just 4,595 pieces to the Small Date variety, and comparison to nearby issues reveals how small this figure is, even in the context of early Charlotte half eagles. Further contemplating the scenario is the question of strike, which further subdivides the Small Date variety into State I and State II coins, based on whether or not the coins show a rim cud near 12 o'clock on the reverse. Winter speculates that the perfect-die coins are part of ' ... the first 2,555 pieces which were produced on March 22, 1842.'
As Winter writes in his summation for the issue, 'The 1842-C Small Date is the rarest half eagle from this mint and it is the rarest collectible coin from Charlotte.'
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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