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SERIES: Classic Head $5 1834-1838
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1838 $5 (Regular Strike)

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PCGS MS66

PCGS MS65+

PCGS MS65
PCGS #:
8176
Diameter:
22.50 millimeters
Designer:
William Kneass
Weight:
8.24 grams
Edge:
Reeded
Mintage:
286,588
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$253,000 • PCGS MS66 • 1-1-2008 • Heritage
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Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 700 R-5.6 5 / 8 5 / 8
60 or Better 90 R-8.1 5 / 8 TIE 5 / 8 TIE
65 or Better 8 R-9.6 4 / 8 TIE 4 / 8 TIE
Condition Census (Explain) Show more rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS66 PCGS grade  

Gold Rush Collection - Heritage 1/2005:30048, $126,500 - Madison Collection - Heritage 1/2008:3159, $253,000

2 MS65 PCGS grade  

Byron Reed Collection - Spink America 10/1996:126, $121,000 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:865, $115,000.  This example is fully prooflike and has been called both a Proof (by Akers and Breen) and a Specimen (by NGC) in the past.

2 MS65 PCGS grade  
2 MS65 PCGS grade  
5 MS64 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS66 PCGS grade  

Gold Rush Collection - Heritage 1/2005:30048, $126,500 - Madison Collection - Heritage 1/2008:3159, $253,000

2 MS65 PCGS grade  

Byron Reed Collection - Spink America 10/1996:126, $121,000 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:865, $115,000.  This example is fully prooflike and has been called both a Proof (by Akers and Breen) and a Specimen (by NGC) in the past.

2 MS65 PCGS grade  
2 MS65 PCGS grade  
5 MS64 PCGS grade  
5 MS64 PCGS grade  
5 MS64 PCGS grade  
5 MS64 PCGS grade  
5 MS64 PCGS grade  
5 MS64 PCGS grade  

Ron Guth: The 1838 Half Eagle is a fairly common coin as far as Classic Head Half Eagles go.  It is not as common as the higher-mintage 1834 Plain 4 and the 1836, but it is far less rare than the lower-mintage 1834 Crosslet 4, 1838-C, and 1838-D.  Akers wrote that truly choice Uncirculated examples are rare, but the PCGS CoinFacts Condition Census includes ten examples that are at least MS64 or better.  The finest example is a single PCGS MS66, followed by a rather impressive PCGS MS65 that is fully prooflike (and has actually been called a Proof in the past by both Walter Breen and David Akers).  Akers was correct in noting that this date comes well struck.


David Akers (1975/88): As a date, the 1838 is more rare than the 1834 Plain 4, 1835, or 1836 but not quite as scarce, particularly in choice condition, as the 1837. Most specimens I have seen have been quite well struck. Average uncirculated examples are seen from time to time but truly choice uncirculated pieces are very rare.