1796 B-4, BB-61 Dollar, MS63+
1796 $1 Small Date, Large Letters MS63+ NGC. B-4, BB-61,
R.2. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. Fully brilliant surfaces exhibit
satin luster under original pale champagne toning with peripheral
gold and blue highlights. A small mark in the right obverse field
near the nose will identify the provenance of this lovely piece.
The strike is a trifle soft on a few hair strands and on the high
points of the eagle.
Small Date, Large Letters
The Finest Known Example
The Bowers-Borckardt Plate Coin
Obverse Die. The obverse appears on B-4, BB-61 and B-3, BB-62, the latter a major rarity. This die appears here in the early state, and on the other variety in a later state. In practice, a tiny raised die flaw over the 1 in the date identifies this obverse in all die states.
Reverse Die. This Large Letters reverse die is unique to the B-4, BB-61 die marriage. The reverse of B-6, BB-64 is the only other Large Letters reverse die among 1796 silver dollars, with only three confirmed pieces.
Die State. Light die lapping or polishing is evident on the obverse, likely done before any coins were struck with these dies. The curl at the front of the forehead is detached and consists of three arcs attached at the top. The shoulder loop is a single line separated from the bust. No die cracks or clash marks appear on either die, but scattered die rust is evident.
Condition Census. Only about half a dozen examples of B-4, BB-61 survive in Mint State grades. When the reverse die was made at the Mint, the eagle punch was lightly impressed into the die surface, and coins struck from this die pairing display shallow relief. Nearly every example quickly wore down, even after limited circulation. The Green-Newman coin, certified MS63+ by NGC, is a lovely original Mint State example of the 1796 Small Date, Large Letters B-4, BB-61 die marriage; somehow it has survived the last 217 years in amazing condition. It is the finest known example of this die marriage and major type. The Newman specimen is finer than any examples listed in the 2013 edition of The Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars 1794-1804. This example was recorded in the Notable Specimens of the 1993 edition of Bowers-Borckardt, but was inexplicably omitted from the listings in the 2013 Encyclopedia.
Appearances. The Newman specimen is the plate coin in the 1993 first edition of the Bowers-Borckardt reference, Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia. This specimen is illustrated as part of NGC's presentation of the Newman Collection at www.NGCCoin.com.
Commentary. There are three major types, usually called Guide Book varieties, known for the 1796 silver dollars. They are differentiated by the size of the date and the size of the reverse letters. Those three major types are the Small Date, Large Letters, the Small Date, Small Letters, and the Large Date, Small Letters. Six individual die varieties are known, and all are extremely rare or even non-existent in Mint State grades. Notably, two different die varieties in the Eric P. Newman Collection represent two of the three major types, and both are splendid Mint State pieces.
Provenance. Ex: "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 @ $60.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 24X3, PCGS# 6860)
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