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1795 Small Eagle Five, Choice AU
1795 $5 Small Eagle AU55 NGC. BD-8, High R.5.
Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/a. This 1795 Small Eagle, BD-8, is
among the rarer die combinations of the 12 known for the year,
coming in at High R.5 or 30-40 known in the BD guide. The BD-8 is
easily recognized by numerous characteristics: Stars 1 and 2 touch,
and star 1 appears to poke straight inward to the lowest hair curl
directly to its right. The tip of the 5 barely overlies the bust,
and the 1 is just barely free of the hair. The stars are arranged
awkwardly 10 and 5, so that star 10 (topmost left star) touches one
point into the cap, while star 15, the lowest on the right, is
considerably distant from the bust front.
Rare BD-8 Variety, First Obverse Use
On the reverse, the wreath shows three berries, one on the outside left, placed high, and two on the outside right. There is no berry on the inside left. (Another reverse has three berries, but the outside left berry is low.)
Numismatists today can tell by the early state of the obverse that this was the first use. Nonetheless, the obverse die of this pairing was also used to make not only the BD-9 and BD-10 marriages, but also trotted out again in 1798 with a Large Eagle reverse die to make the unique 1795 Large Eagle coin, BD-13. John Dannreuther writes that "This is [the] most used obverse die of 1795 (number of varieties), as one fourth had this die. Since it was also used for the Large Eagle variety BD-13, this obverse lasted much longer than the usual early dies. As dies were so precious to the early Mint, this certainly must have been a pleasant change."
This Choice AU example is still somewhat lustrous throughout the antique-gold surfaces, which show a few small sprinkled abrasions from light circulation, but the only mentionable mark on the obverse is a small curving one in the right field, before Liberty's nose and mouth. A small group of marks in the lower reverse field, under the eagle's right (facing) wing, is also undistracting. There are no visible planchet adjustment marks on either side.
From The Fairfax Collection.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)
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