1795 B-14, BB-51 Dollar, MS66+
1795 $1 Draped Bust, Off Center MS66+ NGC. CAC. B-14, BB-51,
R.2. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. Faint radial adjustment marks
appear around portions of the obverse. Most of the trivial surface
ticks are planchet marks that remained when this MS66+ coin was struck. The
surfaces are originally brilliant, save for a splash of delicate
rainbow toning over about 40% of the obverse. The strike is
outstanding and well-centered with all intricate details visible,
including the eagle's eye, which is rarely present. Both sides
exhibit full border dentils, also seldom seen.
Famous Gilbert Stuart Design
The Finest Draped Bust, Small Eagle Dollar
A Masterpiece of Coinage Art
Obverse Die. The Off-Center Bust obverse appears only on the 1795 B-14, BB-51. The bust appears too far to the left on coins produced from this die, meaning it was placed too far to the right in the actual die. Two points of star 1 are solidly joined to the second hair curl, and the highest hair wave is centered below the B in LIBERTY.
Reverse Die. The new Small Eagle reverse is modified from the Flowing Hair design. While the former had an eagle with its wings spread, this new version suggests an eagle that is ready to take flight. The reverse die from the B-14 pairing was used to strike a total of six die marriages dated each year from 1795 through 1798. That die was first used in late 1795 to strike the B-14, mating the new Draped Bust obverse with the Small Eagle reverse. That die next appeared with three different 1796-dated obverse dies: in striking order, B-3, B-2, and B-1. The fifth use was for the 1797 B-2, and the last use was for the 1798 B-2. Examples of four of those six die marriages are offered in this sale of the Newman Collection.
Die State. This piece shows delicate clash marks, especially at the upper reverse. A faint obverse die crack extends into the field from the junction of the second and third curls. Both features are likely only visible on Mint State examples. Several raised die lines run diagonally through UNIT, and minor die rust appears outside of star 4.
Condition Census. The Eric P. Newman coin is the finest survivor of the B-14, BB-51 Draped Bust, Small Eagle die pairing. An example from the Garrett Collection, later in the collection of Louisiana Congressman Jimmy Hayes, is considered by some to be a specimen strike, and it is certified SP66 PCGS. The Eliasberg coin is similar and may have also been a specimen strike. That coin is prooflike and boldly defined and is certified MS66 PCGS. The Newman example, while not showing the mirrored surfaces of those other two coins, is slightly finer as MS66+ .
Appearances. This specimen is illustrated as part of NGC's presentation of the Newman Collection at www.NGCCoin.com. Upon examining the Newman coin at the 2013 ANA Convention in Chicago, Congressman Hayes noted that it was likely from an early 20th century Chapman sale, as he recalled seeing it on a plate in one of their catalogs. Mike Clark plate-matched the Green-Newman example to the following late 19th century sale: S.H. & H. Chapman, November 27 and 28, 1891, "Collection of Coins formed by the Late Wilhelm Boeing, ESQ., Also Superb Set of U.S. Dollars of A. Bridgman, Jr., ESQ." lot 694.
It was described as:
"1795 Bust of Liberty, draped, the hair bound by a fillet and brushed up and back on top; otherwise, as 1794. R. Defiant eagle on clouds, within wreath of two branches of laurel and palm; otherwise, as 1794. The bust slightly left of centre of die. Uncirculated. Superb specimen, with mint lustre. Extremely rare. See plate."
Plate matching was accomplished by the mark in the field by star 13 and the one above the hair ribbon.
Commentary. South Carolina politician Henry William DeSaussure was appointed the second Mint director in June 1795, following the resignation of David Rittenhouse. The new Mint director had two goals upon entering the office. The first was to introduce gold coinage, which he accomplished quickly; the first gold coins were struck at the end of July. The second goal was to improve the designs of silver coins. New designs appeared soon afterward, but DeSaussure quickly resigned his position; it was not to his liking. In October 1795, Elias Boudinot was appointed the third Mint Director.
The Draped Bust, Small Eagle designs were the standard for silver coinage in the late 18th century. That design combination appeared on half dimes, dimes, and half dollars dated 1796 and 1797, quarter dollars dated 1796, and silver dollars dated 1795 through early 1798.
The design and coinage was a group effort, according to numismatic tradition. It is believed that Gilbert Stuart, the famous 18th century portrait painter, created the Draped Bust design with Mrs. William Bingham as his model. She was the former Anne Willing, active in Philadelphia social circles. It is unknown if Stuart prepared the reverse design. John Eckstein, a Providence, Rhode Island artist, prepared models from the drawings, and Mint engraver Robert Scot used the models to make device punches for coinage dies. Eckstein was paid $30 for "two models for dollars" on September 9, 1795. That payment record is important, as it gives an indication of when the Draped Bust dollars were actually struck. The new designs are masterpieces of coinage art, as much loved today as they likely were in 1795.
Scot prepared two Draped Bust obverse dies and two Small Eagle reverse dies for the silver dollar coinage. Mint records show that 82,238 silver dollars were delivered from the coiner to the Mint treasurer between September 24 and October 24, 1795. An earlier delivery of 4,260 silver dollars on September 12 may have been the first examples of the Draped Bust design. Another 72,840 silver dollars were minted throughout 1796, some of which were almost certainly from the 1795 Draped Bust, Small Eagle dies. Mint records tell us how many coins of a denomination were minted but give no breakdown by design. Perhaps 2,000 to 2,500 examples survive today, from an estimated mintage of 100,000 to 125,000 coins.
In his November 1881 Type Table sale catalog, John W. Haseltine termed this obverse die "fillet head." When Bolender published The United States Early Silver Dollars from 1794 to 1803, he called this die "fillet bust." For more than 50 years, many dealers and collectors referred to the 1795 Draped Bust, Small Eagle reverse dollars in that way (the "fillet" referring to the ribbon tied at the back of Liberty's hair). Both then and now, the 1795 Draped Bust, Small Eagle dollar represents an important type for anyone interested in the early U.S. silver dollars from 1794 to 1803.
Provenance. Ex: A. Bridgman, Jr. (S.H. & H. Chapman, 11/27/1891), lot 694; Unknown intermediaries; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $75.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.(Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 24X2, PCGS# 96858)
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