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1797 Small Eagle Ten, BD-1, AU50
1797 $10 Small Eagle AU50 PCGS. BD-1, R.5.
Bass-Dannreuther Die State b/b. The BD-1 is the only die pairing
known for the 1797 Small Eagle ten dollar gold coins, although the
year was a transitional one: The reverse changed during the year to
the Large Eagle or Heraldic Eagle style, of which three die
marriages are known. The 1797 Small Eagle accordingly appeals to a
wide range of collectors, as it is a Guide Book-listed
variety, a last-year-of-type coin, and simply a rare early gold
coin that is seldom offered in any grade. Putting the rarity at
R.5, Bass-Dannreuther estimate that from 55 to 65 examples survive
today in all grades.
Obverse Star Arrangement 12x4
The 1797 Small Eagle variety is an anomaly that could be the start of a long and fruitful numismatic journey: It has the most asymmetrical star arrangement of any early eagle variety, a lopsided 12 stars left, 4 right ("12x4" for short). This suggests that some of our deep-pocketed collector friends might try to assemble one of each of the various obverse star arrangements -- which are all technically different design subtypes, in fact -- among the early gold eagles, which are as follows:
--Stars 10x5. 1795 Small Eagle, BD-1 through BD-5.
--Stars 8x8. 1796 BD-1.
--Stars 12x4. 1797 Small Eagle, BD-1. The present specimen.
--Stars 10x6. 1797 Large Eagle, BD-2 through BD-4.
--Stars 9x4. 1798/7 BD-1.
--Stars 7x6. 1798/7 BD-2.
--Stars 8x5. 1799-onward.
Such a type collection of early obverse star arrangements would thus comprise seven varieties, but pursuing them in the highest practicable grades could be a lifetime numismatic pursuit.
The present 1797 Small Eagle, BD-1, would certainly put the successful bidder well on the road, offering bright yellow-gold surfaces that display noticeable reddish patina around the device edges and the margins of each side. Numerous light handling marks are sprinkled around, none distracting. The strike is well-defined save for the immediate high points of each side. Population: 2 in 50, 16 finer (1/12).(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BFYN, PCGS# 8555)
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