Choice AU 1795 Small Eagle Five
1795 $5 Small Eagle AU55 NGC. Breen-6412, BD-4, R.5. A
number of diagnostics easily identify this variety. On the obverse,
a point of star 1 touches the hair curl, the tip of the 5 in the
date connects to the bust, and star 11 overlaps the Y in LIBERTY.
The reverse is distinguished by the central location of the wreath
under the O in OF and by the position of the olive branch in
relation to the UNI in UNITED.
The obverse of this variant is shared with two other Bass-Dannreuther varieties, namely BD-2 and BD-3, on which it saw earlier use. Thus the earliest die state is die state c, the state of the latest BD-3. In this slightly later die state a crack runs from the rim through star 12 and slightly into the field, but star 1 just barely touches the lowest curl; later in this die state lapping separates the two. (Bass-Dannreuther note that, since this is the last use of this obverse, some pieces [which may have been melted hundreds of years ago] should exist in the terminal die state, presumably showing shattering of the die.)
The reverse of this die marriage, BD Reverse C, is unique to this variety and can be easily distinguished not only by the diagnostics above, but because there are only three berries on the small wreath that the eagle holds in its beak--two outside and one inside.
Bass-Dannreuther estimate that 60 to 75 specimens of this variety exist, making the present coin an attractive potential acquisition for the variety or type collector. From the 30,000-foot perspective, all of the 1795 Small Eagles are important as the first gold coins struck by the U.S. Mint, even if this variety cannot possibly be the absolutely first of that important beginning.
The charming surfaces of this Choice AU example show lovely orange-gold coloration, with a few minor surface ticks consistent with the grade. A small patch of adjustment marks appears from above stars 14 and 15 to below the tip of the bust. Much luster remains, and the overall impression of one of high quality, despite some striking softness on the eagle's head and neck that is usual for the variety.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)
Weight: 8.75 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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