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    1795 Draped Bust Dollar, SP62
    Off-Center, B-14, BB-51
    Amazing Presentation Piece

    1795 $1 Draped Bust, Off-Center, B-14, BB-51, R.2, SP62 NGC. The 1795 B-14, BB-51 dollar with an off-center Draped Bust represents the first appearance of the new obverse design. The Small Eagle reverse also made its first appearance here. The circumstances surrounding the coin's issuance are subject to a certain amount of speculation. The designer and engraver remain unidentified, the exact timing of the Mint's transition from the Flowing Hair design to the Draped Bust type is uncertain, and the actual mintage of the new design is a further unknown variable relating to the production of 1795 Draped Bust dollars.

    The Draped Bust obverse and the Small Eagle reverse follow the requirements of Section 10 of the 1792 Mint Act:

    And be it further enacted, That, upon the said coins respectively, there shall be the following devices and legends, namely: Upon one side of each of the said coins there shall be an impression emblematic of liberty, with an inscription of the word Liberty, and the year of the coinage; and upon the reverse of each of the gold and silver coins there shall be the figure or representation of an eagle, with this inscription, "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and upon the reverse of each of the copper coins, there shall be an inscription which shall express the deno­mination of the piece, namely, cent or half cent, as the case may require.

    Much speculation about the designer of this coin type has appeared in print over several decades. The 19th century Mint Director, James Ross Snowden wrote in 1861 that Gilbert Stuart designed the Draped Bust obverse, information that he received from "a relation of the family." Conflicting evidence exists in the form of a September 9, 1795 payment of $30 to John Eckstein for "two models for dollars." While we don't know the specifics of those models, the timing is right for obverse and reverse models for the Draped Bust, Small Eagle dollars. William Nyberg argues Chief Engraver Robert Scot was a far more likely source of the Draped Bust design. There is no contemporary evidence to support Gilbert Stuart's involvement, while Scot had extensive experience in drapery designs from his time preparing engravings for Dobson's 1792 Encyclopedia. In Robert Scot, Engraving Liberty, William Nyberg writes (pp. 123-4): "The iconic Draped Bust designs were allegorical representations that were 'emblematic of liberty,' as required by law in the Coinage Act of 1792, and were designed and engraved by the person commissioned specifically for that purpose, Robert Scot."

    The September 9, 1795 payment to John Eckstein was probably in relation to the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design, and that payment suggests that his models were likely prepared just a few days earlier. Silver dollars were delivered from the Coiner to the Mint Treasurer on August 29, 31, September 1, and 12, and again on September 24. While there are no existing Mint records that discuss the design change, the September 24 or October 3 deliveries are likely. Researcher R.W. Julian suggests a mintage of 78,238 Draped Bust silver dollars, the total of deliveries in the fourth quarter of 1795, from October 3 through the final delivery of the year on October 24. Although we don't know if examples were struck in 1796, Julian's mintage figure is probably accurate. The actual number may have be smaller as only two die pairs are identified.

    There are several prooflike Mint State 1795 Draped Bust silver dollars known, but this one, while not the highest graded example, clearly has a special look. It features full strike definition throughout, including Liberty's curls and the eagle's breast, wing, and leg feathers. Both sides are fully mirrored with silvery, steel-gray color and splashes of pale lavender. A few light striations appear over the central obverse, and tiny ticks limit the technical grade. Still, this amazing specimen is nearly in a class of its own, and was made with care, lacking any adjustment marks on the obverse or reverse. NGC fails to distinguish Specimens from circulation strikes in its Census, so we are unable to conclude how many, if any, comparable examples have been seen by that service (10/17).
    From The Twelve Oaks Collection, Part IV. (PCGS# 96859)

    Weight: 26.96 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Twelve Oaks Collection, Part IV ]

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