1865 Coronet $5 Half Eagle

By late 1861, the Northern army was clearly bogged down in its effort to quickly end the Southern uprising and restore the Union. As the reality of a long civil war sank in, the United States suspended gold and silver payments in redemption of paper currency, in order to preserve a war chest.(1)

This action and fear of the unknown sparked widespread hoarding of gold and silver in the Midwest and Atlantic states. In response, production of $5 half eagles at the Philadelphia Mint declined dramatically, falling from 688,000 pieces in 1861 to 4,430 in 1862, all the way down to 1,270 in 1865.(2)

In San Francisco, far removed from the battlefields back east, the branch mint there issued plenty of half eagles, the gold denomination most favored in the West during the 1860’s.

The 1865 output was the lowest half eagle mintage since 1815 and the fifth lowest of the entire production life of the denomination, spanning from 1795 to 1929.(3)

With such a small original mintage and high attrition rate due to exportation and melting, its no surprise less than 50 representatives of the 1865 Coronet half eagle are known to exist today.(4)

The 1865 half eagle has exploded in value for most grades since the early 2010’s, following a long period of dormancy. Similar patterns occurred in the 1950-1990 timeframe as well. We can expect more price spikes in the future because the 1865 is buoyed by rarity, historical significance, and strong collector interest.

Estimated survivors in all grades: 35
? The survivor estimate from PCGS represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in all grades. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Learn more at PCGS.
PCGS Rarity Scale: 8.8
? The 'PCGS CoinFacts Rarity Scale' assesses the relative rarity of all U.S. coins, based on estimated surviving examples. The scale runs from 1.0 to 10.0. The higher the number, the rarer the coin.
Learn more at PCGS.
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1. Wikipedia.  Specie Payment Resumption Act.

2. Heritage Auctions.  1865 $5.  Mar 2019 Auction.

3. Yeoman, R.S. and Garrett, Jeff, et al.  A Guide Book of United States Coins, 75th ed. Pelham, AL: Whitman Publishing, 2021.

4. Stack's Bowers Galleries.  1865 Liberty Head Half Eagle.  Apr 2022 Auction.

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Coin images by Stack's Bowers Galleries.