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1799 7x6 Stars Dollar, B-12b, BB-160
MS65, Ex: Newcomer, Green, Heifetz

1799 $1 7x6 Stars MS65 NGC. CAC. B-12b, BB-160, R.3. Bowers-Borckardt Die State IV, corresponding to the Bolender 12-b designation, an advanced state with a multitude of die cracks described as "shattered" by more than one commentator. Certain commentators have placed this coin as somewhere shy of Die State IV / 12b, most notably the Stack's cataloger in October 1995, but the qualifying cracks, while fine and half-hidden by this coin's generous patina, are visible on close examination.

Only a handful of Draped Bust dollar die varieties are available in better-than-Gem condition as rated by the major grading services and the 1799 B-12, BB-160 is not among them. In the census for the B-12, BB-160 provided in Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States, Q. David Bowers rates this coin as "MS65+" and puts it at the head of his list of "notable specimens."

Opinions of this piece have varied significantly over the years, though its status as the best of its variety has not come under serious threat. Early on, it was a prize for now-famous names such as Waldo Newcomer and Colonel E.H.R. Green. In its first major auction appearance, the New Netherlands 48th Sale of 1956, it was classed as "Brilliant Unc., almost in the gem class." In October 1989, a time of great froth in the coin industry, Superior Galleries proclaimed the piece "Mint State 67. Superb." and went on to gush: "We have wracked out memories in trying to recall another Heraldic Eagle Bust Dollar as lovely as this. ... Perhaps an equal exists, but we have never seen it nor heard about it. So we have to conclude this is the Finest 1799 Bust Dollar in existence. [emphasis theirs]"

This piece realized an astonishing $198,000, though from a strictly financial perspective there was something of a winner's curse attached to the coin. In the more sober mid-1990s, Stack's, while still laudatory and calling it "Gem Brilliant Uncirculated," realized only $60,500 for the piece. Sometime after the Stack's event, the coin was certified as MS65 by NGC; more recently, CAC granted this coin a green label of approval.

Even though it is no longer thought of as the finest circulation-strike Bust dollar in existence, nor even the finest 1799 dollar, it is nonetheless a magnificent representative of the design as well as the best of its die variety, and so it remains of great interest to elite type and series enthusiasts. Its luster is full and broad, all-around luminous with a cartwheel effect that is most obvious on the margins. Liberty's portrait, particularly her hair, gives off a charming frosted effect at certain angles. The coin's color, much remarked-upon throughout its auction history, remains a delight with gorgeous blue hues as well as lavender, lilac, and apricot shades. The strike is strong, the centering good, and wear nonexistent.

What may not be immediately apparent is how utterly clean the surfaces are, particularly for an MS65 coin. There are only three areas worth notice: a small group of parallel marks overlapping the bottom of Liberty's face (the major pedigree marker for this specimen), a half-hidden line of tiny marks up and to the right of her chin, and a luster disturbance to the right of the eagle on the reverse. These are all minor quibbles, however, on a coin this well-preserved and flat-out gorgeous. This offering is a marvelous opportunity for the dedicated and deep-pocketed collector.
Ex: Waldo C. Newcomer; Colonel E.H.R. Green; James G. Macallister; T. James Clarke; New Netherlands 48th Sale (1956); Jascha Heifetz; Superior (10/1989), lot 3817; 60th Anniversary Auction (Stack's, 10/1995), lot 692.(Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 24X7, PCGS# 6878)

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Auction Dates
November, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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