Remarkable 1803 Extra Star Eagle, MS63
1803 $10 Extra Star MS63 NGC. Breen-6845, Taraszka-30, BD-5,
High R.4. Bass-Dannreuther Obverse State g / Reverse State b.
Bass-Dannreuther refer to the BD-5 as the Large Reverse Stars,
Extra Star variety, for the anomalous 14th star reposing atop the
last cloud on the right reverse.
BD-5, Sharply Struck Example
And they should know. After all, it was pioneering gold (primarily) researcher Harry W. Bass, Jr. who discovered that curiosity. There are six known die pairings among the 1803 eagles, all of which use the same obverse die. That die shows the 1 and 3 in the date, respectively, nearly touching the tops of the lowest curl and bottom of the drapery. The reverse dies, six in all, fall into two classes, Small Reverse Stars (BD-1 through BD-4) and Large Reverse Stars (BD-5 and BD-6).
Since the extra 14th star is sometimes (but not here) faint, numismatists use other diagnostics to discern the BD-5 reverse: a leaf tip points to the left side of the I in AMERICA; the first two A's, in STATES and the first in AMERICA, are complete, but the last A in AMERICA has a broken inside-right foot.
The BD-6, a notable rarity with only six to 10 examples known, shows the same broken inside-right foot on all three A's, so we know that the punch broke first on the BD-5's last A, after which the BD-6 reverse die was prepared.
As mentioned, here the extraneous star is much bolder than sometimes seen, a likely combination both of the overall excellent strike and lack of wear. Much luster emanates from the orange-gold fields, with some contrast against the frosted devices. Minor contact marks in the obverse fields are consistent with the Select grade, although some of the slight field haze is created by rather extensive planchet adjustment marks that are exclusively confined to the obverse. The reverse, in a later die state, shows a long die crack from the right (facing) side of the shield upward through the wing feathers, with a second die line (or clashing) from the ribbon up through the wing to the feather second from the top. A third small, arcing crack joins clouds 3 and 5 with star 3.
This is an extremely attractive coin, seemingly high-end for the assigned grade, with considerable prooflikeness appearing on each side but more prominently on the obverse. The bold strike and easily discerned extra star add further to the allure. An immensely important example of this historic issue. Census: 5 in 63, 2 finer (11/10). (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.
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