1834 $5 Classic Head, Crosslet 4 PCGS AU58. A wonderfully well-preserved and obviously lovingly cared for example of this transitional early gold half eagle. This coin could easily pass for uncirculated if not for the slightest amount of rub on Liberty’s band and a couple of her curls.
While the exact proportion of 1834 Classic Head half eagles struck with the Crosslet 4 date style is unknown, the population is far smaller than that of the Plain 4 date style. Gold coin author and specialist David Akers noted that the Crosslet 4 “…has appeared at auction less often than any other date of this type including 1838-C” and suggested it is “…actually just as rare as many of the more well known dates of the previous two types,” the Capped Head, Large Planchet and the Capped Head, Small Planchet. PCGS has certified more than 14 times as many Plain 4 half eagles of 1834 than Crosslet 4 half eagles of this date, assigning a Mint State grade on only nine instances. This pleasing specimen is one of ten (10) graded AU58.
In summer 1834 the $5 denomination was redesigned by William Kneass, who created what is now known today as the Classic Head style. The new 1834 issue is similar in design to the quarter eagle of the same date. The obverse depicts the head of Miss Liberty facing left, her hair secured by a band inscribed LIBERTY, with stars circling her head, and with the date below. The reverse shows an eagle with a shield on its breast, perched on an olive branch and holding three arrows. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 5 D. surrounds. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, used earlier, was discontinued. It is possible that the mint carried over the Crosslet 4 idea from the previous Capped Bust 1834 design, but then decided to go with the Plain 4 format for the rest of this issue since the Plain 4 coins outnumber the Crosslet 4 by a huge margin.