1795 $5 Small Eagle AU55 NGC. BD-2, R.6....
1795 Small Eagle Five, AU551795 $5 Small Eagle AU55 NGC. BD-2, R.6. The simplistic terminology -- Small Eagle and Large Eagle (or Heraldic Eagle) -- belies the considerable complexity of the 1795-dated half eagles. There are 12 varieties or die pairings of the 1795 Small Eagle type (most of them rare, at a minimum) and three of the 1795 Large Eagle, making 15 die varieties between the two major Guide Book types. (The 1795 Large Eagle coins are believed to have been struck in 1798.) The half eagle was the first gold coinage denomination struck at the fledgling U.S. Mint -- and by far the most important, as it turned out to be throughout much of the 19th century. The quarter eagle was minted sporadically and in low numbers when it was minted at all, the eagle was discontinued after 1804 until 1838, and the double eagle was not even introduced until 1849-50.
Very Rare BD-2 Variety
Very Rare BD-2 Variety
The 1795 Small Eagle fives were produced in an even dozen varieties, despite the fairly small recorded mintage of 8,707 pieces. The large number of dies used, eight obverses and nine reverses, reflects the Mint's inexperience with die hardening, which led to die failures in the first few years of Mint history that were much more frequent than later on.
The 1795 Small Eagle BD-2 shows star 1 touching but somewhat under the lowest hair curl, star 11 touching the Y of LIBERTY and star 12, and the flag of the 5 barely over the drapery. On the reverse, the wreath opening is just left of the O in OF, and the tip of one palm leaf touches the lower-left serif of the N in UNITED while the longest palm leaf extends to just beneath the lower-right serif.
A blush of orange appears over the prevailing yellow-gold color on the surfaces of this Choice AU NGC-graded example. The lack of mentionable marks points up the quaint 15 Stars obverse to maximal advantage, even though faint high-point wear is perceptible on each side. The interiors of ES show some faint copper-colored alloy spots, but the reverse is equally distraction-free. An attractive example of this very rare and important early gold variety.
From the collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)
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