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Description

1796 Capped Bust Right Eagle, AU50
Scarce BD-1 Variety

1796 $10 AU50 NGC. Breen-6832, BD-1, R.4. With a recorded mintage of 4,146 pieces, the 1796 Capped Bust Right eagle is a scarce date in all grades. The actual total of coins dated 1796 is open to question, as die state evidence suggests some of the 1796-dated coins were struck in 1797, after the 1797 Small Eagle coins. John Dannreuther estimates the original mintage of 1796-dated eagles as 3,500-4,146 pieces, with a surviving population of 125-175 examples in all grades.
Only one die variety is known for the date, featuring 16 obverse stars and 11 leaves on the reverse branch. Since Tennessee was admitted as the 16th state on June 1, 1796, we can be relatively certain all these coins were minted after that date. The number of leaves on the branch may have been an attempt at aesthetic balance between the crowded 13 leaves designs and the famous nine leaves type, both employed in 1795.
The small mintage produced many coins with prooflike surfaces, and early numismatists often confused the coins with proofs. The term proof was used inexactly during the early days of the hobby, often referring to a coin's condition rather than its method of manufacture. Some knowledgeable catalogers were careful to make the distinction, but for many collectors anything shiny was deemed a proof. The situation is illustrated by an early appearance in the Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (Woodward, 3/1865), lot 2735, "1796 Perfectly uncirculated; the rev. surface proof; obv. scarcely less fine; very rare." Woodward seems to have straddled the issue here. He accurately evaluated the coin as an Uncirculated specimen, but he also incorrectly used the proof terminology to describe the coin's condition.
The present coin is an attractive AU specimen showing only light wear in areas like the eagle's head and breast. The pleasing greenish-gold surfaces retain much of their reflective, prooflike quality. A planchet flaw in the left obverse field and a scattering of minor abrasions on both sides are consistent with the grade. Census: 5 in 50, 60 finer (6/10).(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 25ZW, PCGS# 8554)

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Auction Dates
August, 2010
11th-15th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
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