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1803 Small Stars Reverse Ten, BD-3, MS63
A High Grade, Sharply Struck Example
Of This Popular Early Type

1803 $10 Small Stars Reverse MS63 NGC. Breen-6844, Taraszka-28, BD-3, R.4. The 1803 Capped Bust Right, Heraldic Eagle ten dollar gold piece boasts a small mintage of 15,017 pieces. Six different die varieties are known for this issue, with one obverse die used in all six marriages. The reverse die used for BD-3 is characterized by the position of the eagle's beak nearly touching the star below its point, and the right foot of E in STATES positioned over a cloud space. BD-3 is the most available variety of the date, but it is still scarce in absolute terms. In Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, John Dannreuther estimates 150-200 examples of this issue are still extant in all grades. Mint State 1803 eagles are rarities, even the "common" varieties. NGC has certified 18 examples of this issue at the MS63 level, with nine finer; while PCGS has graded nine Choice specimens, with only 11 finer (11/09).
Die marriages were of little interest to collectors of the 19th century, and catalogers seldom differentiated between varieties in their lot descriptions. Numismatists became more conscious of these important differences in the early part of the 20th century, and auction catalogs began to describe the small stars reverse in basic detail. In the Stickney Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1907), lot 623, an 1803 eagle is described: "1803 R. Small stars. Extremely fine. Mint lustre. See plate." The coin sold for $25, a good price at the time.
The present coin is sharply struck, with complete detail on the feathers on the eagle's breast. The surfaces display bright, satiny luster, with attractive reddish patina on each side. A few light obverse abrasions can be detected with a loupe. Rarity, historic interest, and strong visual appeal combine to make this offering an important opportunity for the early gold specialist.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 2629, PCGS# 8565)

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Auction Dates
January, 2010
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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