Incredible Atwater-Hawn-Kaselitz 1806/5 Draped Bust 50c
Tompkins 1, Overton 104 : 1805 obverse over-dated to 1806/5 with a knobbed top 6, large stars. Reverse with twelve arrows in the eagle’s claw at left, and four berries in the branch at right. This is the only four berries reverse for 1806. Tompkins Die Stage 2, obverse and reverse.
1806 was a prolific year at the U.S. Mint which included then record mintages of half dollars and half eagles, the largest silver and gold denominations then minted. Production of half dollars used a combination of twelve obverse dies and twenty-one reverse dies married in thirty die pairs dated 1806, rivaling the thirty-one die pairs dated 1795. Fortunately for collectors, there is enough variation to keep things interesting, with knobbed-top sixes, pointed-top sixes, large stars, small stars, missing stems, cuds, die breaks, over-dates, and rarity levels from widely available to unique all within a single year.
There are two 1805 obverse dies which were re-dated for use in 1806. One is a previously unused 1805 obverse which was over-punched with a 6 over the 5, and a 0 over a previously horizontal 0, although very little of the under-digit 5 remains visible. This obverse was used to strike Tompkins 6 (Overton 101), then T.7 (O.102), then remarried to strike the majority of T.6 (O.101), and finally T.8 (O.103). The initially mispunched horizontal 0 on this obverse die is the logical reason why this die may not have been used in 1805.
Conversely, the other 1805 obverse re-dated for use in 1806 was used previously in 1805, as was its mated reverse. Tompkins’ 1806 Obverse 1 is the same as his 1805 Obverse 7 used to strike T.12 (O.105) and T.13 (O.106) in that year, and Tompkins’ Reverse I was previously used in 1805 to strike T.5 (O.102), T.6(O.110), T.8(O.114), and T.9(O.108). Tompkins’ 1805 Obverse 7 was re-dated with a 6 punched over the 5 to become Tompkins’ 1806 Obverse 1, then the dies were re-lapped and used to strike 1806/5 Tompkins 1 (Overton 104). This is not only the scarcest of the four 1806/5 die pairs, but the only one with a clear 5 under-digit. Both of these dies eventually failed, and were finally retired.
This is far and away the finest known 1806/5 with no close competitors, and one of the top few Draped Bust – Heraldic Eagle Half Dollars of any date. While there are no photos of this coin in the 1946 Atwater catalogue, it matches the 1973 Reed Hawn plate perfectly, with no changes, additions or subtractions since that sale.
William Cutler Atwater; B. Max Mehl ‘Atwater’, June 1946, lot 402; Reed Hawn; Stack’s ‘Reed Hawn’, August 1973, lot 16; later, Doug Kaselitz; Stack’s Bowers, Douglas C. Kaselitz Collection, July 2015, lot 5169 @ $193,875 as PCGS MS66 to Joseph O’Connor (OCNUMIS); ‘The Type Set’ by Oliver and Lish Jung; ‘Boston’ Collection.