Heritage recently announced The 1815 Half Eagle: New Discoveries, a 50 page monograph by David Stone and Mark Van Winkle, edited by Jim Halperin and published by Ivy Press. I now have a copy in hand and here are a few impressions.
First, E-Sylum readers should know I have a soft spot for one-coin books. The ultimate in numismatic specialization, they are an opportunity to record all of the available information, folklore, and images surrounding the known specimens (there are great books about the 1804 Dollar and the 1913 Liberty Nickels). Not every coin is worthy of this special treatment, but the 1815 Half Eagle is a storied rarity certainly deserving of monograph treatment. The authors have put together a fine and useful tribute to this coin, of which just ten genuine specimens are known.
Not unsurprisingly, several E-Sylumites participated in the project, including Mark Borckardt, Roger Burdette, Dick Doty, Saul Teichman, Karl Moulton and Ron Guth. Morten Eske Mortensen helped locate a previously unillustrated specimen held in the Kungliga MyntKabinett (first reported by Joseph Mickley in the early 1870s).
The authors cover what little is known about the early history of this coin and illustrate the earliest printed record of the discovery of the first known specimen as recounted by Elliot Woodward in his 1883 catalog of the William J. Jenks collection. This account is augmented by letters written by Jenks to Mint Cabinet Curator R.A. McClure, discovered in the National Archives by Roger Burdette.
It's a short book by necessity, but still one packed with great information and mentions of a star-studded cast of the great early collectors of U.S. coinage, including Mickley, Col. Mendes I. Cohen, George Seavey, J.N.T. Levick, T. Harrison Garrett, Harold P. Newlin, and Matthew Stickney. Even those of us (which is nearly all of us) who will never own one of these elusive coins should read this monograph. It's a delight for bibliophiles and researchers, chock full of the facts and anecdotes we crave about our hobby.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: THE 1815 HALF EAGLE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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