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Description

1803 Capped Bust Right Eagle, MS62
Popular Extra Star, BD-5 Variety

1803 $10 Extra Star MS62 NGC. BD-5, High R.4. Bass-Dannreuther Die State g/a. The 1803 Capped Bust Right eagle boasts a nominal mintage of 15,017 pieces, with six die varieties known for the date. The same obverse die was used to strike all six varieties, an unusually durable performance for a die from this era. Four of the reverse dies employed a small star punch and the other two display large stars. This coin exhibits the Large Stars reverse, with an additional very small star located in the last cloud on the right. This Extra Star reverse is classified as the BD-5 variety in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, the standard reference for the series by John Dannreuther and Harry Bass, Jr. The BD-5 is a very scarce variety, with a surviving population of 90-110 examples in all grades. It probably accounted for 3,000-5,000 pieces of the reported mintage.

The Large Stars reverse was recognized by 19th century specialists like John Colvin Randall. When Randall sold part of his collection through prominent coin dealer W. Elliot Woodward in June of 1885, lot 859 in the catalog was listed as:

"1803 No. 1; Large stars on reverse; very fine indeed; reverse proof."


The small extra star exhibited on the BD-5 reverse is well-hidden in the contours of the cloud and it is not certain whether early students of die varieties, like Randall, noticed it or not. The coin in Randall's collection was probably a BD-5, as the only other Large Stars variety, BD-6, is very rare, with a known population of 7-10 examples today. Edgar Adams and Waldo Newcomer, who studied die varieties in the early 20th century, both recognized the Extra Star variety. Although several theories have been advanced to explain the extra star, no really convincing explanation for this feature has come to light. The BD-5 is extremely popular with present-day collectors, because of this mysterious phenomenon.

The present coin is a well-detailed example that retains much of its original mint luster. The bright yellow and greenish-gold surfaces show only minor contact marks and eye appeal is quite strong. Some faint planchet adjustment marks are evident at different locations on the reverse. Census: 12 in 62, 7 finer (10/13). (PCGS# 88565)

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Auction Dates
December, 2013
5th-8th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 12
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