1817/4 Capped Bust Half Dollar

Few early half dollar varieties are as rare or exciting as the 1817/4 Capped Bust Half Dollar, which has just eight examples known to exist. The overdate is bold and easily identified, even in lower grades, which comprise most of the known examples. Many refer to this issue as the “King of the Capped Bust Half Dollars.”

It was common practice for the early Mint to reuse old dies by changing the last digit of the date. For the production of the 1817 half dollars, two old obverse dies dated 1813 and 1814 were overdated with a 7 in place of the last digit. The 1817/3 half dollars were struck in higher quantity and remain readily available. The die for the 1817/4 half dollar presumably broke early in production, resulting in an extremely limited mintage.

The 1817/4 overdate was not discovered until 1930. Very few examples have turned up since then, despite constant searching by dealers and specialists. The most recent discovery came in 2005 when a contractor in upstate New York discovered a piece while raking fill. This specimen, which exhibited EF details with corrosion, ranks as the second finest known and sold for $253,000 at auction.

The finest known example is a single AU specimen, which sold in July 2009 for a realized price of $356,500.