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1797 B-3, BB-71 Dollar, MS64+
1797 $1 10x6 Stars, Large Letters MS64+ NGC. CAC. B-3, BB-71,
R.3. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. A Choice Mint State example, this
piece displays a bold strike with virtually full details on both
sides. Frosty mint luster shines through the original light gold
toning, complementing deeper peripheral iridescence.
One of the Finest 10x6 Stars, Large Letters
The Bowers-Borckardt Plate Coin
Obverse Die. The obverse die, with 10 stars to the left, and six stars to the right, appears only on the present die marriage, and this star layout appears nowhere else in the early dollars.
Reverse Die. This is the only use of the reverse die and it is quickly recognized by noting the lowest berry in the left branch on the outside of that branch.
Die State. The highest hair wave and the lowest hair curls show evidence of die lapping. The reverse die is also lapped, showing incomplete palm leaves in the right wreath branch. There is no reverse die crack on this piece, coined from an intermediate die state. The die dot close to the bottom-right of the first 7 in the date shows clearly on this high-grade coin.
Condition Census. This specimen was included among the Notable Specimens in the first edition of the Bowers silver dollar reference. Unfortunately, it was excluded from the 2013 revision, but it is nonetheless among the three finest. The two highest graded are the MS65 Louis Eliasberg and MS65 Jack Lee examples. We urge the readers to make their own comparisons. It is our opinion that this is the most eye appealing of the three.
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. In 1795 and 1796 the obverse dies for the Flowing Hair and Draped Bust dollars all had 15 stars. A 16th obverse star was added to the 1797-dated dies; Tennessee had been admitted to the Union as the 16th state in 1796. The 1798 silver dollars reverted to 15 stars and then to 13 stars.
The mintage of U.S. silver dollars in 1797 was minimal, due to production problems at the Mint and an epidemic of yellow fever in Philadelphia during the summer. Evidence exists, however, that some of the 1797-dated silver dollars were actually struck in 1798.
Three die marriages exist for the 1797 dollars, each representing a different Guide Book type. The obverses are distinguished by the varying numbers of stars on the left and right, the reverses primarily by the letter sizes in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The present sale represents the first public auction sale ever in which all three varieties are offered in Mint State.
1797 Silver Dollar Die Varieties
Stars 10x6, Large Letters Reverse
--B-3, BB-71. Both obverse and reverse dies are monogamous to this die pairing. The obverse star arrangement is unique to the early U.S. silver dollars, the only one with 16 stars arranged 10 left and six right (facing Liberty). The Large Letters reverse die (compare the letter sizes with the B-2, BB-72) shows a leaf ending under the middle of E in STATES; on the B-1, BB-73, the leaf ends under the upright of that E. The lowest berry is outside the wreath on the reverse of 1797 B-3, BB-71; it is inside B-1, BB-73.
Stars 9x7, Small Letters Reverse
--B-2, BB-72. This is the rarest of the three die marriages known for 1797 silver dollars. The obverse die, showing stars arranged nine left and seven right, was first used in making this variety, then for the B-1, BB-73. The Small Letters reverse die was used for a total of six silver dollar die marriages dated 1795, 1796, 1797, and 1798. The reverse die was likely used first, in late 1795, to strike the 1795 B-15, BB-51 die marriage, mating the new Draped Bust obverse with the Small Letters reverse. The reverse was next used in striking three 1796-dated die marriages: B-3, BB-62; B-2, BB-63; and finally B-1, BB-66. The fifth use of the reverse struck examples of 1797 B-2, BB-72, and the last use was for the 1798 B-2, BB-81 variety.
Stars 9x7, Large Letters Reverse
--B-1, BB-73. The second use of the obverse die previously used in striking B-2, BB-72. The reverse die would later be used to strike the 1798 B-1, BB-82 die marriage. Date and major type collectors, as well as die variety collectors, avidly seek all three different 1797-dated varieties. All three are Guide Book-listed varieties.
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 @ $75.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 24X4, PCGS# 6865)
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