1798 Capped Bust Right Half Eagle. Heraldic Eagle. BD-3. Rarity-5. Large 8, 14-Star Reverse, Wide Date. EF-40 (PCGS). Warm yellow-gold patina blankets both sides with deeper orange-gold peripheries on the obverse. The strike is sharp in most areas, and the vibrant, satiny texture retains glints of the original mint finish in the protected areas.Much of the early years of the Philadelphia Mint were spent trying to figure out ways of prolonging die life, especially for their gold issues. This was especially important for the half eagle, which served as the workhorse gold denomination in commerce. Although some 24,867 half eagles are recorded as having been delivered in 1798, six obverse and eight reverse dies matched in eight so far identified pairings were required to accomplish this production run. Of these pairings, only the BD-3 bears a reverse with 14 stars above the eagle arranged in a arc: six stars above, six stars in the second row, and one star each flanking and before the eagles neck. Why a 14th star was added is not known; in our August 2014 sale of the Dr. James A. Ferrendelli Collection, we note that this arrangement may have been blundered rather than a deliberate composition. The BD-3 die pairing is quite scarce with between 35 and 50 coins believed to survive, with the lower range the more probable according to John Dannreuther. This figure is bolstered by the population reports for the variety; PCGS has only recorded a total of 13 grading events in all grades total for the Large 8, 14 Stars Reverse variety, none of which in Mint State. An important addition to any specialized cabinet of early half eagle varieties.