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    Superlative 1795 B-15, BB-52 Dollar, MS65

    1795 $1 Draped Bust, Centered MS65 PCGS. Ex: Cardinal Collection. B-15, BB-52, R.2. There are two varieties known for the 1795 Draped Bust silver dollars, known as the Off-Center Bust (B-14) and the Centered Bust (B-15). Most numismatists believe that the B-14 dollar was struck first, followed by the B-15. In his 1993 Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, Dave Bowers explained his reasoning for this sequence:

    "I believe the BB-51 to be the earlier of the two Draped Bust varieties dated 1795, as evidenced by the following: 1. The Draped Bust motif on the obverse was placed slightly to the left of where it should have been; this was corrected for the next variety, BB-52, and on all later dates of the type. 2. BB-51 exists in high grades in significantly larger numbers than does BB-52, and most of these are prooflike--indicating that some may have been made as presentation specimens of the new Draped Bust obverse, Small Eagle reverse design."

    There is much that we still must learn about these early silver coins, and about all early coins in general. The new Draped Bust design is said to be the work of portraitist Gilbert Stuart, who prepared sketches that were translated to plaster models by John Eckstein, an artist from Rhode Island. Mint records show that Eckstein was paid $30 for "two models for dollars" on September 9, 1795. The time seems appropriate for preparations made to coin the new design. If the timing is indeed correct, then the 1795 Draped Bust dollars were coined in October of that year, with a total mintage of 78,238 coins. However, the date these coins were first struck is unknown, and the last date of their coinage is also unknown, perhaps continuing into 1796. The preceding are just a few questions that may never be answered. Surviving Mint records provide much valuable information, but many questions can only be answered by an examination of the coins.
    It would be nice if we could find a document that states "On October 14, 1795 we struck 2,875 silver dollars using the dies of B-14, but then the reverse die shattered all at one time, and we had to replace it with a new reverse die. Later that same day, we struck another 6,310 silver dollars using the B-15 dies." Obviously no such documents exist. The alternative is to look at as many coins as possible, and attempt to reconstruct events at the Mint. For the dedicated numismatist, this becomes the ultimate detective story.
    Both 1795 Draped Bust dollar varieties are known in higher grades, including the present Gem B-15 dollar, and the incredible Superb Gem B-14 dollar from the Eliasberg Collection. The two coins are likely the finest known examples of the two different varieties. While PCGS has graded one finer coin and NGC has certified four better pieces, it is doubtful that those submissions represent more than one or two additional coins. This is clearly a highlight of the present offering of early dollars, and may stand as one of the highlights among all early dollars that we handle throughout 2009.
    In the 2001 catalog of the Phillip Flannagan Collection, Dave Bowers described this coin as "a masterpiece of the coiner's art." We are unable to say it any better! Both sides have satiny luster beneath exquisite gold, violet, and sky-blue toning. Splashes of brilliant silver frame each and every individual design element, from the date, to the stars, letters, central devices, leaves in the wreath, and the ribbon bow. The reverse has a tiny planchet flake beneath the right (facing) wing, and some faint adjustment marks across the center, but these fail to diminish any of the exceptional design definition.
    Ex: Bowers and Merena (11/1998), lot 259; Flannagan Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/2001), lot 4218; Cardinal Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 6/2005), lot 16.
    From The Joseph C. Thomas Collection.
    (Registry values: N14284)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24X2, PCGS# 6858)

    Weight: 26.96 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper


    View all of [The Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part Two ]

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    Auction Dates
    Apr-May, 2009
    29th-3rd Wednesday-Sunday
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