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    Description

    1795 Capped Bust Right Eagle, MS63+
    Rare 9 Leaves, BD-3 Variety
    Finest-Certified Example
    Ex: Pogue

    1795 $10 9 Leaves, BD-3, R.6, MS63+ PCGS. CAC. Ex: Simpson. Bass-Dannreuther Die State d/b, with a die lump near the second leaf on the branch, and die cracks at the first T in STATES, and the first A in AMERICA. The 1795 eagle, with the 9 Leaves reverse, is the rarest and most popular of all the Capped Bust Right, Small Eagle die varieties. John Dannreuther calls this issue "the king of the Small Eagle type." Heritage Auctions is privileged to present the finest certified example of this important early gold rarity in this landmark offering.

    The 1795 Capped Bust Right, 9 Leaves Eagle
    The United States Mint struck gold coinage for the first time in 1795 and Mint records indicate a small production of 5,583 Capped Bust Right eagles was accomplished. Since the Mint continued to use serviceable dies long after the end of the calendar year, it is likely that some 1795-dated eagles were actually struck in later years and their production is not reflected in the mintage figures for 1795. Five die varieties are known for the date. This coin represents the BD-3 variety, easily recognized by the nine leaves in the palm branch on the reverse (all other varieties have 13 leaves). The BD-3 is the most elusive variety of the Small Eagle type and John Dannreuther estimates these dies were used to strike fewer than 500 pieces of the reported mintage. Probably no more than 20-22 examples are extant in all grades today. This was the only use of the distinctive reverse die, but the obverse was also used to strike the BD-2 and BD-5 varieties of this date.

    As to the reason for the 9 Leaves reverse, Dannreuther notes:

    "It is not known whether the 9 leaves on the branch indicate an experiment or a die cutting error, but the fact that the reverse was changed to 11 leaves for 1796 and 1797 indicates it was an intentional experiment. Perhaps the arrangement of 13 leaves was considered too crowded and grouping of 9 leaves was too sparse, leading to the introduction of 11 leaves on the branch in 1796."


    An Enigmatic Issue
    Although the 1795 9 Leaves eagle is a widely popular, sought-after variety today, it was largely unrecognized by students of the series until relatively recent times. John Colvin Randall identified four varieties of 1795-dated eagles by 1885, but he did not mention the 9 Leaves reverse in the catalog of his collection when it was sold by W. Elliot Woodward in June of 1885. Likewise, Silas Wodell exhibited three varieties of the 1795 eagle at the 1914 ANS Exhibition, but the BD-3 variety was not represented. The first auction appearance we can positively identify as a BD-3 is lot 356 of the Thompson and Ely Collections (Henry Chapman, 5/1915):

    "1795 Small stars. R. End of branch far from A and end of leaf over center of U; die broken at first T in STATES. Fine. Rare."



    Strangely, Chapman missed the more distinctive nine leaves characteristic, but the position of the leaf and the die break through the T are sufficient to identify the rare BD-3 variety. Unfortunately, Chapman's description attracted little notice at the time, and the elusive BD-3 continued to go unrecognized.

    The first numismatist to publish a description of the variety was Edgar Adams, in his article in the May 1934 edition of The Coin Collector's Journal:

    "5-Same as No. 1. Rev. End of stem does not touch or come very close to 'A'. End of one leaf touches center of 'U'. Nine distinct leaves in branch. There is a die defect at the end of the second leaf. Clapp."



    Unfortunately, Adams disremembered the owner of the discovery coin, as there was no example of the BD-3 listed in the Clapp notebook. The coin Adams referred to was almost certainly the example from the fabulous collection of William Woodin, which was sold to Waldo Newcomer in 1926, and had probably passed to "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, via B. Max Mehl, by the time Adams wrote his article. As collector awareness grew, more examples emerged over the years, but the pace was decidedly slow. As late as 1980, gold specialist David Akers commented that the issue "has never received any publicity." Of course, the variety enjoys a wide celebrity today, with prominent mention in the Guide Book and Dannreuther's series reference. There is no danger of the BD-3 being overlooked in any present day public offering.

    The Present Coin
    The coin offered here first surfaced in lot 908 of the Superior session of Auction '89, where the cataloger called it "a coin that towers head and shoulders above its competition." It was acquired by the father and son collecting partnership of Mack and Brent Pogue, who made it the cornerstone of their fabulous collection of early eagles. It remained in the Pogue's celebrated holdings for 26 years before being sold for a record price of $1,057,500 at a Stack's Bowers-Sotheby's auction in 2015. It was acquired by Bob Simpson after the sale and has been a highlight of his magnificent collection ever since.

    This Plus-graded Select specimen is the single-finest certified example of this famous early gold rarity. The only coin that might approach this piece for quality and eye appeal is the uncertified specimen in the Harry Bass Core Collection, which is on display at the ANA Museum. The well-preserved yellow and copper-gold surfaces exhibit vibrant, frosty mint luster on the devices, especially on the obverse, with much prooflike reflectivity in the fields. Only minor signs of contact are evident, but we mention a minor scrape in the obverse field, near the Y in LIBERTY, for completeness. Some slight granularity shows near the date and near the top of the wreath on the reverse. The design elements are well-detailed, though some softness is evident on the centers, probably due to some planchet adjustment marks on the reverse that were not completely struck out. Much fine detail shows on the feathers in the eagle's wings, but the juncture of the eagle's tail and leg is incomplete, due to lapping. The all-important 9 leaves branch is boldly delineated and overall eye appeal is terrific. This coin is the finest example of this popular Guide Book variety in private hands. The advanced collector or Registry Set enthusiast will find no adequate substitute for this remarkable specimen once it crosses the auction block. The 1795 9 Leaves eagle is listed among the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins. This coin is pictured on PCGS CoinFacts. Population (for the variety): 2 in 63 (1 in 63+), 0 finer (11/21).
    Ex: Steven Gehringer and Buddy Kellar; Stuart Levine and Martin Paul; Andy Lustig and Ron Karp; Auction '89 (Superior, 7/1989), lot 908; Mack and Brent Pogue, via RARCOA; D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part II (Stack's Bowers, 9/2015), lot 2091, realized $1,057,500; the Bob R. Simpson Collection. Plate coin for the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 45714, Base PCGS# 8552)

    Weight: 17.50 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


    View all of [Important Selections from The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part VII ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2022
    12th-16th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 37
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,682

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $29) per lot.

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