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    Description

    Amazing 1795 Small Eagle Five Dollar
    MS65 Prooflike, BD-6, R.5
    The Single Finest Prooflike Known

    1795 $5 Small Eagle MS65 Prooflike NGC. S over D, Breen-6414, BD-6, R.5. We are pleased to offer a delightful 1795 Small Eagle Gem Prooflike five dollar piece, the single finest prooflike example known. This design type was coined between 1795 and 1798, with an estimated mintage of 17,555 pieces for all issues. The 2008 Guide Book lists 8,707 half eagles minted in 1795.
    According to information contained in Bullion Journal A of mint records, 1795 half eagle mintage occurred between July 31 and September 16 of that year:

    Warrant No. Date Half Eagles

    1 July 31 744
    26 August 11 520
    27 August 14 1,000
    28 August 18 105
    29 August 22 380
    34 September 1 1,634
    35 September 3 1,054
    36 September 12 2,400
    38 September 16 870

    Mint records indicate that one extra five dollar piece was struck for assay with the July 31 delivery, one with the August 11, two with the August 14, and three each with every delivery after that, for a total of 22 assay coins.
    Although the 1795 is not particularly scarce by half eagle standards, it is nevertheless a relatively high priced coin due to its popularity among type collectors. In this regard. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, writing about the 1795 issue in their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins: 1795-1933, indicate that the number of survivors today is about 520 examples. They go on to say that Mint State specimens are fairly rare, and are most likely to fall into the MS60 to MS62 grade range. With respect to Gems, Garrett and Guth contend that they are "extremely rare."
    The coin being offered here today is the single and only MS65 Prooflike certified by either NGC or PCGS, making this the single finest 1795 Small Eagle Five dollar gold coin to exist.
    The Capped Bust to Right, Small Eagle design type was created by Chief engraver Robert Scott. Walter Breen, writing in his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, says that while Scott's source for the obverse design is unknown, "Probably he copied some unlocated contemporaneous engraving of a Roman copy of a Hellenistic goddess, altering the hair, adding drapery and an oversize soft cap." According to Breen, the origin of the reverse small eagle is more certain: "It is Scott's adaptation of a sketch or engraving of a first-century A.D. Roman onyx cameo, no. 4 in the Eichler-Kris catalog of these cameos in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, a lesser relative of the Gemma Augustea and possibly by the same master. The eagle's attributes (wreath in beak, palm branch in claws) are the same, though Scott turned him from a profile view to front view."
    The BD-6 variety is attributed by the flag of 5 in the date halfway over the drapery, the tip of the 1 free of the curl, and the last S of STATES over a previously punched D. Several spurs also characterize this variety, the most noteworthy located under the knob of the 5, another runs to the outer tip of star 14, one penetrates the top of the B in LIBERTY, two occur between the F of OF and A of AMERICA, and one goes through the left side of the second T in STATES.
    The strongly prooflike fields of the Gem in this lot display conspicuous contrast with the frosty motifs, much more so than typically seen on business strikes. Die polish lines are evident in the fields, more noticeably so on the reverse. Uniform yellow-gold color adorns both sides, and a powerful strike leaves bold delineation on the design elements, including the strands of Liberty's hair and the eagle's breast and neck feathers. The few minute marks that are present are completely within the parameters of the numerical grade designation. There are some faint mint-made parallel lines at the border, especially near star 5, and again near the CA of AMERICA.
    In summary, this is a conditionally rare Prooflike Gem with amazing luster and great overall eye appeal. As such, the aficionado of early U.S. gold coinage will want to give special consideration to this first time on the auction block single finest known, breathtaking 1795 Small Eagle Five Dollar. NGC Census 1 in 65 Prooflike, none finer.(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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    Auction Dates
    January, 2008
    9th-12th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 14
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