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Very Rare 1795 9 Leaves Eagle, BD-3, MS61
1795 $10 9 Leaves MS61 NGC. BD-3, High R.6. The
present offering of an MS61 NGC 9 Leaves 1795 eagle is without a
doubt among the most important in this Platinum Night session. It
is a coin not only high in the Condition Census, but also the
finest we have offered of this extremely rare variety in more
than a dozen years.
One of Five or Six Mint State Survivors
The 1998 offering of an MS61 PCGS example, lot 6461 in our Mid-Winter ANA Signature (Heritage, 3/1998), brought $184,000. The present MS61 NGC example formerly appeared as lot 1270 in a Goldbergs auction (9/2008), where it brought $224,250. An MS61 PCGS example traded hands in a Spink/Smythe auction, lot 1 (5/2011), for $379,500. And an MS63 NGC example, lot 908 (Superior, 7/1989), traded for $308,000 well over a decade ago.
Given the extreme rarity and popularity of this crucial early type coin, the population data are hopelessly inflated with duplications and resubmissions. Before the publication of the Bass-Dannreuther reference on early U.S. gold, it was common for collectors to refer to Anthony Taraszka's United States Ten Dollar Gold Eagles 1795-1804, in which he identified the Harry W. Bass, Jr. specimen as the finest known in a total roster comprising only 15 examples. We believe the number of survivors cannot exceed 18 pieces at the outside, with only five or six that might be considered Mint State. The Bass specimen, impounded (presumably forever) in the Bass Foundation Collection, is the only Mint State example of the 9 Leaves 1795 eagle that would realistically stand a chance of grading MS64, in our opinion.
The rarity of the 1795 9 Leaves can be explained by the existence of two 13 Leaves varieties, one "rather common" (within the context of the series), the BD-1, and one "very scarce," the BD-2. The BD-2 coins share an obverse with the BD-3 9 Leaves, as die state evidence proves. The date is widely spaced, and the tip of the flag on the 5 lies over the bust. Star 11 is separated from the Y in LIBERTY. Star points 1, 10, and 11 are lapped and shortened.
The unique reverse of the 9 Leaves shows jagged die cracks on all known examples, cracks produced during the die preparation that caused its rapid demise after relatively few were struck, apparently the last 1795-dated eagles. One is a lumpish die break just below the second palm leaf from the right, not quite coplanar with the rest of the die and thus appearing almost like a planchet lamination on the coins. Another ubiquitous crack appears at the first T in STATES, again jagged and irregular, not coplanar with the rest of the surface in that area. A third crack of similar kind but lesser degree occurs at the first A in AMERICA. The Bass Sylloge describes a similar reverse on that coin: "Reverse shows die broken at tip of second palm branch, die broken and cracked to rim at first T of STATES, and small break inside and on right upright of first A in AMERICA."
The Bass-Dannreuther reference estimates that somewhere between 210 and 500 examples of the 9 Leaves were originally struck, out of the reported 5,583 examples minted for this first year of eagle coinage (including, of course, the 13 Leaves pieces).
The present MS61 NGC example is bright yellow-gold with surfaces that are extremely attractive overall. The finish is somewhat reflective and prooflike on each side, more noticeably in the protected areas between the peripheral elements and the rims and around the central device edges. Abrasions include a scattering of mostly light marks in the fields on each side, while a tiny indent above the 9 in the date and a few ticks on Liberty's cheek and neck are ultimately grade-defining. Diagonal planchet adjustment marks that appear through the central obverse are as made. The strike is particularly well-executed on the eagle's wing feathers, while the softness in the central reverse is a result of the corresponding adjustment marks on the obverse.
The importance of this monumental early gold coin -- a Mint State example of what is by far the rarest variety of the first year of issue for America's largest and most important gold denomination -- simply cannot be overstated. Census: 1 in 61, 1 finer (6/12).
Ex: Ohringer Collection (Goldbergs, 9/2008), lot 1270, which brought $224,250.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# BFYL, PCGS# 8552)
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