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Description

1798 B-2, BB-81 Dollar, AU58+
Small Eagle, 15 Stars Obverse
Condition Census Specimen

1798 $1 Small Eagle, 15 Stars AU58+ NGC. CAC. B-2, BB-81, R.3. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. The eagle is a trifle weak from the head down to the leg, but the details are sharp elsewhere. Slight wear on the high points prevents a Mint State grade, but this piece exhibits exceptional eye appeal with virtually full luster and brilliant centers within a ring of original peripheral iridescence.

Obverse Die. This obverse die was only used once, to strike the B-2, BB-81 variety. The obverse die eventually cracked. This cataloger knows of two examples with an interesting die break from Liberty's throat through the field down and to the right, eventually passing between the drapery and star 15 to the right dentils and rim at about 4:30 on the obverse. The numeral 8 in the date shows an oval top loop and circular bottom loop, a feature unseen on any other early dollar obverse but also used on the 1798 gold eagles.

Reverse Die. The "workhorse die" was used in six different die marriages from 1795 to 1798. As a result of the usage and lapping of the die over time, the reverse appears a bit weaker than the obverse on 1798 B-2, BB-82. The Small Eagle, Small Letters reverse shows the olive branch on the left having seven berries; one berry is just under the A in STATES, a quick way to identify this reverse. A palm branch is on the right.

Die State. The usual die state shows evidence of obverse die lapping, but the surfaces otherwise appear made from perfect dies, with no cracks or clash marks.

Condition Census. The 1993 Bowers-Borckardt Silver Dollar Encyclopedia recorded four examples of this variety graded MS60. However, most of the Notable Specimens in that reference had grades taken from the old catalog appearances. Since that time, two of those pieces have been eliminated from the list and the other two have been downgraded. However, other specimens have been added, and the 2013 Encyclopedia lists three Mint State pieces. The Eric P. Newman specimen is the fourth highest graded example of this die variety, and, in our opinion, the most eye appealing and desirable example due to its remarkable originality.

Appearances. This specimen is illustrated as part of NGC's presentation of the Newman Collection at www.NGCCoin.com.

Commentary. The 1798 B-2, BB-81 die marriage is desirable to collectors as the only 1798 dollar (among 33 total die marriages) with 15 stars on the obverse. If the 15 stars (rather than 16) were not merely punched into the die in error, that would indicate the unfinished die, lacking the date, was made in 1795 or at least before June 1796, when Tennessee joined the Union. In 1798 the incomplete die had the date added and was used to coin the B-2, BB-81, making it one of only two 1798-dated Draped Bust, Small Eagle dollar 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 @ $100.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 24X5, PCGS# 6868)

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Auction Dates
November, 2013
15th-16th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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