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    1795 Small Eagle Five, BD-4, MS60
    Rare First-Year Variety

    1795 $5 Small Eagle, BD-4, R.5, MS60 NGC. CAC. Bass-Dannreuther Die State c/a. The Mint Director's report for the year 1795 showed a total production of 8,707 half eagles, all of the Small Eagle reverse type. Eight obverse dies and nine reverse dies were employed for the coinage, comprising 12 individual die marriages. Three of these obverse dies were later paired to Large Eagle reverses, circa late 1797 to 1798, but those extremely limited mintages are not included in the production total of 1795.

    Of the Small Eagle 1795 varieties, BD-3 is the most frequently seen, estimated to survive in numbers of 175 to 225 coins; every other variety is significantly rarer, although some are still collectible. BD-4 has the distinction of being the second most available die pairing overall, but still surviving to the extent of only 60 to 75 coins. Among early gold eagle varieties, this is considered available, even though the uninformed collector will find an example extremely difficult to locate.

    Walter Breen once reasoned that BD-4 was the first die pair used for half eagle coinage in 1795, although modern research of die states debunks that theory. The obverse is seen here in its third and final use, having been previously employed for BD-2 and BD-3. Moreover, the tail die used for BD-2 is in a later die state than it is on the BD-1 marriage, which confirms without a doubt that all three of those varieties were struck prior to BD-4, with BD-1 being the first die pair employed for half eagle coinage in July 1795. The reverse die on BD-4 is seen here in its only use.

    BD-4 fills a sweet spot for the casual date or type collector; the variety is somewhat scarcer than is BD-3 for the rarity enthusiast who wishes to stray from that issue's perceived availability, but it is not so difficult to locate as to dampen one's persistence or collecting enjoyment. The present piece is an appealing lower-end Mint State example, with semireflective, yellow-gold fields that exhibit tinges of deeper rose-gold around the peripheries. The strike is a trifle soft in the centers and the left obverse border is not fully brought up, allowing faint remnants of mint-made adjustment marks to be seen in both areas with a loupe. There are no individually detracting abrasions, and we instead note just light chatter in the fields that limits the grade. An excellent representative of this scarce first-year Small Eagle variety.
    From The Big Sky Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 25ND, Variety PCGS# 519853, 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.

    View all of [The Big Sky Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,492

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