Stack's Superb Gem 1910-D Half Eagle
David Akers wrote of the discovery of several hundred 1910-D Half Eagles in early 1979, most of which were in the lower mint state grades. Today, 1910-D is a fairly common issue in Uncirculated condition, with over 800 coins graded between MS60 and MS63 by PCGS alone, many of which certainly originated with that 1979 hoard. However, nearer the Gem grades, this issue becomes progressively scarcer, with only about a dozen survivors in MS65 or better.
Since 2003, three MS67 1910-D Half Eagles have topped the PCGS Census. This coin was the last addition to the trio, once part of the incredible collection of James A. Stack, and sold in October 1994 by Stack’s (no relation) as lot 1281 at $37,400. Shortly thereafter, it was certified by NGC as MS67 when John Albanese was still in charge, and when NGC’s grading opinions still had some weight, then crossed to PCGS MS67 in 2003. David Akers sold John Jay Pittman’s 1910-D $5 in October 1997, as lot 1102, bringing $73,150. In his description of Pittman’s coin, Akers noted:
The James A. Stack: 1281 and Norweb: 983 examples are the only other Gems that have been sold at auction in many years. This Pittman specimen is superior to the Norweb coin and at least the equal of the wonderful Stack coin, if not finer.
Pittman’s 1910-D Half Eagle was later certified by PCGS as MS67, and from my notes, it is currently held by a ‘black hole’ of incredible 20th Century gold coins. Incidentally, Norweb’s 1910-D was later sold by Akers as part of the Thaine B. Price Collection, and is now certified by PCGS as MS66 #30134649.
Regardless of date and mintmark, this is a truly superb example of Pratt’s Indian Head Half Eagle design. The surfaces show unquestionably original full frost and rich orange gold coloration that is framed in a ring of subtle green about the periphery. A few scattered abrasions are noted, including a mark under the Indian’s nose, some trivial marks under star 7, and a two point reed mark on the reverse under N of UNUM, but none rise to the level needed to knock this out of the top spot.
James A. Stack; Stack’s October 1994, lot 1281 @ $37,400; Superior February 1999, lot 3294 @ $51,750 as NGC MS67 #914058-007; ‘Boston’ Collection of U.S. Type Coins; crossed to PCGS MS67 in 2003; ‘Milwaukee’ Collection of U.S. Type Coins; ‘The Type Set’ by Oliver and Lish Jung.