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1797 Large Eagle Ten Dollar, BD-4, MS61
Reverse Die Designed by John Smith Gardner

1797 $10 Large Eagle MS61 NGC. BD-4, High R.4. Bass-Dannreuther Die State d/b. The year 1797 saw the eagles, at ten dollars each the largest gold denomination, change in design on the reverse from the so-called (and unfortunate, since we have to avoid writing things such as "Small Eagle eagle") Small Eagle to the Large Eagle or Heraldic Eagle motif. The 1797 Small Eagle tens were produced in an amount recorded as 3,615 pieces, while the 1797 Large Eagle tens were made in larger amounts, given as 10,940 coins. Both, of course, are important type coins, the last and first of their respective types, and Guide Book-listed varieties as well.
The quarter eagles of 1796 saw the first use of the new motif. Although Mint Chief Engraver Robert Scot is the only designer credited in the Guide Book for both the Small Eagle and Large Eagle tens, in reality the reverse motif was the work of the Mint's assistant engraver from November 1794 through March 31, 1796, John Smith Gardner -- the same man who designed the 1795-97 Liberty Cap half cents and the 1793-96 Liberty Cap large cents. The Gardner design was based on the Great Seal of the United States, which today appears on the reverse of the one dollar bill. After leaving the Mint's employ in 1796, Gardner would later achieve fame as the inventor of the "Stenographic Telegraphic," a device to record the spoken word.
The BD-4 Large Eagle tens of 1797 were among three known die pairings known, all three sharing a common obverse die that still had 16 stars, arranged 10 left and 6 right. It would be the following year, 1798, before the Mint would revert to a standard 13 Star obverse. The reverse used in the BD-4 die pairing has a "long thin neck" on the eagle, as does the slightly different reverse used on the BD-2. The BD-3 has a "short thin neck," and all three reverse dies were made by Gardner.
The die states are rather late on both sides of this piece, adding to its appeal, with lapping and or die cracks appearing on each side. The luster is a bit thin in the fields, but there are few abrasions for the grade. The surfaces are rich yellow-gold with even orange overtones, complementing slight reflectivity appearing in the fields.(Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 25ZY, PCGS# 8559)

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Auction Dates
February, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 13
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