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Historic 1795 Small Eagle Five, BD-1, MS60
Possibly the First Gold Coin Variety

1795 $5 Small Eagle MS60 NGC. BD-1, R.5. Two major design types are known for the half eagles with a 1795 date. This Small Eagle design was actually produced in 1795, whereas the Large or Heraldic Eagle design was backdated, and actually coined in 1798. There are 12 individual die varieties of the Small Eagle type, representing the earliest gold coins produced at the Philadelphia Mint. These 12 varieties were produced through various combinations of eight obverse dies and nine reverse dies.
When Walter Breen studied these coins in the 1960s, he assigned numbers 1 through 4 and letters A through D to the four obverse and reverse dies that he believed were first used by the Mint. Adjustments have been made to his sequence, and today, the Bass-Dannreuther reference notes that this was the first half eagle variety produced in 1795, thus it is probably the first U.S. gold coinage variety. On July 31, 1795, the chief coiner of the Mint delivered 744 half eagles to the Mint treasurer, and this example was probably among those pieces. Minor die cracks and die rust on both sides suggest this is a later die state of the variety.
The surfaces are pleasing, with attractive green-gold coloration. A minor scratch from Liberty's neck crosses the left obverse field to star 5, and this is the only readily apparent imperfection, aside from the usual abrasions that exist on nearly every known example. There is no trace of wear on either side, and the fields exhibit a slightly reflective appearance. This is a lovely example and an extremely important opportunity for the half eagle specialist or the collector of historic coinage.
From The Maltbie Family Collection.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 12
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