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    Description

    AU58 1803 Large Reverse Stars, 'Extra Star' BD-5 Eagle

    1803 $10 Extra Star AU58 PCGS. Breen-6845, Taraszka-30, BD-5, High R.4. To the present cataloger (GH) the cessation of eagle coinage, ordered in 1804 by President Thomas Jefferson, is one of the greatest tragedies in U.S. numismatics, from an aesthetic point of view. These were the nation's largest and most impressive gold coins for more than half a century, from 1795 until the double eagle was introduced in 1850. But the large gap in their production has led many numismatists to favor the early quarter eagles and half eagles. In 1795 an ounce of gold, worth 15 ounces of silver in America, was worth 15.5 ounces of silver in Paris--enough differential for bullion brokers and speculators to buy U.S. gold coins and ship them to Paris for sale. By 1813 the ratio had reached 16.25 to 1, and the vast majority of all early U.S. gold coinage was melted. At the end of 1804 President Thomas Jefferson ordered eagle production stopped. Even though the half eagle and quarter eagle contained gold proportional to their face values with the eagle, those series continued, intermittently and with unreduced gold content, until the 1830s. Eagle production would resume 34 years after it was halted, in 1838.
    Only a single obverse die was married polygamously to six different reverse dies to create the varieties known for 1803. A die line on the obverse runs from the drapery fold at left of the neck curl, upward and right to the juncture of the neck with the bust. The large, pointed stars are of a style also used on the B. 2-B, Taraszka-25 1801-dated eagle variety. Some light clash marks in the hair, from the second of three known sets of die clashes from the Taraszka-29 Reverse D (B.1-B), remain visible throughout the life of this obverse. Stars 11 through 13 are a bit weak, along with the top row of reverse stars, both as on the Bass specimen, but this example lacks the die crack through BERTY of the piece plated in the Bass Museum Sylloge. On the reverse of this R.4 variety a small extra star, about half the area of a "regular" star, is lightly punched within the peripheries of the rightmost cloud. A leaf points to the left edge of the I in AMERICA, and the last A has a partial foot.
    Numismatist par excellence and gold specialist Harry W. Bass, Jr., discovered the extra star (and thus the variety) at the 1966 ANA Convention. The extremely useful new Bass-Dannreuther Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties comments, "There have been several theories to explain the extra star. The punch that made the extra star is smaller than any used on eagles, so it may be an intentional addition to this reverse die by a Mint employee. It is hard to imagine an accident causing this feature, as a punch would have had to drop into this working die at some point. This is another early gold mystery that defies explanation." Mellow green-gold surfaces contribute to this piece's superb eye appeal. Light field chatter and just a trace of rub confirm a small spate in circulation, but this piece remains a charming and distraction-free example of this historic early gold series. (NGC ID# 262A, Variety PCGS# 88565, Base PCGS# 98565)

    Weight: 17.50 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 323

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