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1795 $5 Small Eagle AU50 PCGS. BD-4, R.5....

2012 May 30- June 3 US Coins Signature Auction- Long Beach #1171

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Auction Ended On: Jun 1, 2012
Item Activity: 7 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Long Beach Convention Center
100 S. Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802


1795 Capped Bust Right Five, AU50
First U.S. Gold Issue
Rare BD-4 Variety
1795 $5 Small Eagle AU50 PCGS. BD-4, R.5. The 1795 half eagles were the first gold coins produced by the United States, and the Philadelphia Mint struck all 8,707 pieces of the reported mintage by September 16 of that year. The public saved many 1795 half eagles as souvenirs. Despite its low mintage, this issue required seven obverse and nine reverse dies. At least two of those dies survived beyond the year, and were later used to produce the famous 1796/5 and 1797/5 varieties.
This coin represents the very scarce BD-4 variety, which probably accounted for 1,000-1,500 pieces of the reported mintage. Some of the diagnostics for the BD-4 are: the tip of 5 in the date barely overlaps the drapery above; the upper point of obverse star 11 extends onto the Y in LIBERTY; the lower two points of star 11 intersect the upper two points of star 12; a die crack at star 12 to the rim; and only three berries on the reverse wreath. John Dannreuther estimates a surviving population of just 60-75 examples of the BD-1 in all grades.
Robert Scot designed both sides of this initial half eagle design. Liberty faces right and wears a conical cap or hat on the obverse. She is surrounded by peripheral devices that include the date, 15 stars (ten to the left side, five to the right), and the word LIBERTY. On the reverse, an eagle perches on a palm branch with nine leaves, and clutches a circular wreath in its beak, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the periphery. This AU example displays generally well made devices and modestly reflective fields. While the obverse features are crisply defined, the reverse shows obvious striking weakness on the eagle's neck, breast, and leg feathers. There are numerous wispy marks and hairlines on both the obverse and the reverse, as well as a couple of moderate blemishes on the upper reverse, and a heavy abrasion in the left obverse field. Rich green-gold and peach patina adorns each side of this highly attractive survivor.
Ex: Milwaukee ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2007), lot 1893, realized $36,800.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)

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