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    Description

    1795 Capped Bust Right Half Eagle, MS62
    Small Eagle Reverse, BD-3 Variety
    Important First-Year Type Coin

    1795 $5 Small Eagle, BD-3, High R.3, MS62 NGC. Bass-Dannreuther Die State c/b. The United States Mint struck gold coins for the first time in 1795, after Congress lowered the bonds required by the Mint Act of 1792 for Chief Coiner Henry Voigt and Assayer Albion Cox to work with precious metals. The first coins produced were 744 Capped Bust Right half eagles with the Small Eagle reverse, delivered on July 31, 1795. The Mint would produce a total of 8,707 half eagles in the second half of 1795, but some 1795-dated coins may have been struck in 1796, as well, if the dies were still serviceable at year's end. The Mint had not perfected their die hardening techniques at this early date and high-quality steel was an elusive commodity. As a result, even with the modest production runs of the era, the dies often broke during striking. It required eight obverse and nine reverse dies to strike the small production of half eagles in 1795, with a total of 12 die combinations known for the date and type.

    The present coin represents the popular BD-3 variety, with star 11 joining both Y in LIBERTY and star 12 on the obverse, and the upper leaf extending to the left foot of I in UNITED on the reverse. The BD-3 is the most available variety of the date, with a surviving population of 175-225 examples in all grades. We tend to think the study of die varieties is a relatively recent discipline, but the early half eagles were studied extensively more than 100 years ago by numismatists like William H. Woodin and Edgar Adams, who identified 11 different die varieties of the 1795 Small Eagle half eagle by 1914, when Woodin displayed his collection at the 1914 ANS Exhibition.

    The coin offered here is a delightful MS62 example, with pleasing orange-gold surfaces that show some scattered, minor contact marks on both sides. Prooflike reflectivity is evident in sheltered areas around the devices and the design elements are strongly impressed, though the obverse shows some evidence of lapping. No planchet adjustment marks are evident and overall eye appeal is excellent. The 1795 half eagle enjoys tremendous popularity with type collectors, as well as series specialists. We expect intense competition when this lot is called. Census: 20 in 62, 18 finer (7/16).
    From The Twelve Oaks Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 25ND, Variety PCGS# 519852, Base 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.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    9th-12th Friday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,171

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