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1795 Small Eagle Half Eagle, AU58
Very Rare BD-2 Variety
20-25 Examples Extant

1795 $5 Small Eagle AU58 NGC. BD-2, R.6. Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/c. Gold coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint for the first time in 1795, with both the five and ten dollar denominations delivered during the year. The official reported mintage of 1795 half eagles was only 8,707 pieces, but some 1795-dated coins may have been struck in 1796, until the dies failed. The coins struck in 1795 (and possibly 1796) employed a Small Eagle reverse design, with 12 die varieties known for the date and type. A few years later, some 1795-dated obverse dies were combined with Heraldic Eagle reverses to produce three more die varieties of the date. The study of die varieties of this issue began early, as John Colvin Randall knew of at least eight varieties in 1885, and William Woodin knew of 11 varieties when he displayed his collection at the 1914 ANS Exhibition. Waldo Newcomer was able to acquire all 12 of the known Small Eagle varieties by 1931.
The coin offered here represents the very rare BD-2 variety, with star 11 touching both Y in LIBERTY and star 12. On the reverse, one leaf merges with U and another touches the left foot of N in UNITED. The BD-2 probably accounted for 500-1,000 pieces of the reported mintage, possibly constituting the August 11, 1795 delivery of 520 coins. John Dannreuther believes the surviving population numbers no more than 20-25 examples in all grades, with the lower figure being more likely.
The present coin is an attractive near-Mint specimen, with slightly reflective lemon-yellow surfaces. The design elements are well-detailed, with a touch of softness showing on the eagle's breast and some stars. Only the slightest trace of actual wear shows on the high points of the design. A few minor contact marks are evident, the worst being a thin scratch in the left obverse field, near the hair. Faint traces of adjustment marks can be detected at the top of the reverse. This coin possesses absolute rarity, intense historic interest, and strong aesthetic appeal. We expect spirited competition when this lot is called. Census (for all varieties): 63 in 58, 59 finer (4/12).(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)

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Auction Dates
May-Jun, 2012
30th-3rd Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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