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    1797 Capped Bust Right Eagle, AU55
    Elusive Small Eagle, BD-1 Variety
    Ex: Taraszka

    1797 $10 Small Eagle, BD-1, R.5, AU55 PCGS. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b/b, with an advanced radial die crack in the obverse field from the rim at 4:30 and another, lighter crack from the same spot on the rim to the point of the bust. The design of the eagle was switched from the old Small Eagle reverse to the Heraldic Eagle motif partway through the year in 1797. John Dannreuther estimates between 1,250 and 3,615 examples of the Small Eagle type were struck before the changeover, based on delivery records, die states and emission sequences, and number of survivors. One die variety is known for the date and type. This was the only use of the obverse die, with its unbalanced arrangement of the stars in a 12x4 array. The reverse die was used previously to strike all the eagles in 1796. Interestingly, some of the 1796-dated coins were struck after the 1797 eagles were produced, as a single 1796 eagle is known with the reverse die in a later die state than its use on this issue. The 1797 BD-1 eagle has a surviving population of just 55-65 examples in all grades, making it the most elusive date of the Small Eagle design type.

    The 1797 Capped Bust Right eagle was a favorite with pioneer collectors, who appreciated the rarity of the Small Eagle issue at an early date. An early auction appearance was lot 1616 of the Fifth Semi-Annual Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1864):

    "1797 Small eagle reverse, four stars at the right; a splendid uncirculated piece, of the highest degree of rarity."

    The lot realized $40, more than any other early eagle in the sale, to prominent Ohio collector Heman Ely. Recent auction sales of AU55 PCGS specimens have gone as high as $132,000.

    The present coin traces its history to the collection of early eagle specialist Anthony Taraszka and it is the plate coin in his book United States Ten Dollar Gold Eagles: 1795-1804. This impressive Choice AU specimen exhibits just a trace of friction on the high points of the well-detailed design elements and the lightly abraded orange-gold surfaces retain much of their original satiny mint luster. Two small, horizontal marks near Liberty's ear are the only useful pedigree markers, and even they tend to blend in with the surrounding details of the nearby curls. The overall presentation is most attractive. This coin will be a welcome addition to a fine collection of early U.S. gold.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 45716, Base PCGS# 8555)

    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
    February, 2020
    20th-23rd Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 28
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,171

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