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Rarity-5 1795 Small Eagle Five, BD-1, MS61
Likely the First Small Eagle Five Die Variety

1795 $5 Small Eagle MS61 NGC. BD-1, R.5. Bass-Dannreuther Die State c/b. The U.S. Mint used eight obverse and eight reverse dies to strike the recorded 8,707 examples of the 1795 half eagle with Small Eagle reverse, the first year of U.S. gold coinage when only five and ten dollar pieces were struck; the quarter eagles would appear a year later, in 1796. There are 12 1795 Small Eagle varieties in all, numbered BD-1 through BD-12. That there are so many die varieties existing among the 1795 Small Eagle fives can be laid at the feet of the early Mint's inexperience with proper hardening of die steel; many dies cracked early, although they appear to have been used as long as they were serviceable.

The BD-1 is a rare die pairing, of which Bass-Dannreuther estimate that only 40 to 50 pieces survive in all grades. Given the characteristics of the dies, it is surmised to be the first die pairing used for the year. The obverse shows a wide date with the flag of the 5 mostly covering the drapery of Liberty. Star 1 is embedded in the lowest hair curl, and star 15 pierces the front of the bust. Star 11 is distant from the Y in LIBERTY. (The wide date obverse dies are BD-1 through BD-6.) The reverse shows the wreath having four berries, two inside, two outside. Palm leaves touch the bottom center of U and the left side of N in UNITED.

The present Mint State example is yellow-gold with a hint of reddish patina. The fields are moderately reflective, probably from die lapping. The obverse shows some moderate die cracks through the peripheral stars as outlined in Bass-Dannreuther. The strike is sharp, save for the immediate center of each side, showing slight weakness evident on the central hair curls and eagle's breast. Numerous small abrasions are dotted around, but the grade primarily derives from a horizontal obverse scratch from star 5 to the right border of Liberty's neck.
From The Fenn Family Collection.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)

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Auction Dates
February, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 13
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