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1797 Small Eagle Ten, BD-1, XF45
R.5, Rarest Small Eagle Year

1797 $10 Small Eagle XF45 NGC. BD-1, R.5. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b/b. The 1797 Small Eagle ten dollar pieces are among the present cataloger's favorite varieties of early gold. What were they thinking? Even though both the 1796 and 1797 Small Eagle tens display 16 stars on the obverse, the 1796 type shows the stars arranged nicely and symmetrically, 8 left, 8 right. The 1797 Small Eagle tens show a bizarre, lopsided appearance that is unique in early American numismatics, 12 stars crowding the left periphery so much that star 1 collides with the date, while 4 stars line the right periphery, leaving much "white space" between the lowest star and the date.

The 1795 Small Eagle tens show the stars arranged 10 left, 5 right, but in mid-1796 Tennessee joined the Union as the 16th state, necessitating the 16 Star arrangement before the Mint wisely chose to revert to the "original 13" star layout for (most) subsequent coinage.

If one tries to visualize how the 1797 tens would appear without star 1 bumping into the date, the arrangement would not be so bad, but that lowest-left star ruins any attempt to escape strangeness.

As we mentioned on the 1796 Small Eagle from the same consignor, the 1796 and 1797 issues are both distinct subtypes in U.S. coinage; they share the same reverse, in fact, although it is of the 11 Leaves type rather than the 9 Leaves and 13 Leaves reverses seen on the 1795 Small Eagle issues.

This Choice XF NGC-certified piece shows attractive golden-orange color with some deeper brownish-gold areas around the rims. The branching die cracks below star 16 on the obverse are accompanied by a small patch of scratches in the field before Liberty's throat, with another small patch out from the chin near star 14. Neither patch is overt or overly distracting. The reverse displays a few scattered, small dark flecks, and diagonal planchet adjustment marks appear through the eagle's breast and left leg. Much original surface remains on both sides of this appealing and quite rare early gold eagle.
From Christopher Bently's Nob Hill Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BFYN, PCGS# 8555)

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Auction Dates
Feb-Mar, 2014
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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