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Conditionally Elusive 1796 Eagle, AU53

1796 $10 AU53 PCGS. Breen-6832, Taraszka-6, BD-1, R.4. The only die variety, with 16 obverse stars. The 1796 eagle is much scarcer than its 1795 counterpart, despite a mintage that is only slightly lower at 4,146 pieces. A possible explanation for this anomaly is that the accepted mintage figures for the two dates, as they are currently stated, are simply incorrect. Certainly there were no mintages kept by the employees of the early Mint in Philadelphia, as we would understand them. Instead, mintage records were generated according to the number of coins produced, of each type, during the year. This number was not broken down by the date on the coins, however; and frequently dies were used from previous years, as long as they remained serviceable. Although Mint records indicate that 6,934 eagles were produced in 1796, it now seems likely that the majority of those coins were dated 1795. Indeed, based upon current population data from NGC and PCGS, where nearly three times as many 1795s have been certified, the generally accepted figure of 4,146 pieces for 1796 may be too high. This theory is supported by the observation that five different die pairs were utilized on coins dated 1795, but only this single die marriage has been verified for examples from 1796.
This is a boldly struck specimen that does not reveal noteworthy weakness on any of the obverse design elements. The reverse shows crisp definition on the peripheral devices, while the eagle's talons, legs, breast, and neck feathers evince typical softness. A shallow planchet void is noted just to the right of the 6 in the date. Slightly worn on the highpoints, there are two or three small abrasions on each side, and a few faint hairlines in the fields. A visually pleasing and conditionally elusive example of this ten dollar issue, from just the second year of our nation's official gold coinage.
From The James Mossman Collection.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# BFYM, PCGS# 8554)

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Auction Dates
January, 2009
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