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    Finest Known Prooflike 1795 Small Eagle Five, MS65
    A True First Year of Issue Super Gold Rarity

    1795 $5 Small Eagle S over D MS65 Prooflike NGC. A stunning beauty, this Gem Prooflike 1795 Small Eagle five ranks among the finest we have ever handled. In fact, it is the only Gem example of this early issue that has appeared in any of our sales since 1993, a reappearance of lot 3135 in our January 2008 FUN Sale. It is also the finest Prooflike example that has ever been certified, and it is tied for second best numerically, exceeded only by a single MS66 NGC coin. The strongly prooflike fields of this Gem 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 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. There are some faint mint-made parallel lines at the border, especially near star 5, and again near the CA of AMERICA. Many old-time dealers, B. Max Mehl for one, would not hesitate to call such a coin a proof, or perhaps a "semi-proof."
    The Small Eagle fives were first coined in the summer of 1795 with 744 coins delivered on July 31. John Dannreuther reported that Harry Bass concluded that BD-1 was the first variety of 1795. The first group of varieties used three obverse and three reverse dies that were interlinked. The next group were the two S over D varieties, using two obverse dies and one reverse die. The S over D coins are not die-linked to any other varieties, and they could just as easily be the first half eagles struck in 1795. Total mintage of half eagles dated 1795 is believed to be 8,707 coins that were produced between July 31 and September 16.
    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 Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins: 1795-1933, indicate that about 520 examples survive today. They say Mint State specimens are fairly rare, most falling into the MS60-MS62 range. Garrett and Guth contend that Gem examples are "extremely rare."
    Mint Chief Engraver Robert Scot created the Capped Bust to Right, Small Eagle design type. Walter Breen, writing in Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, says that while Scot'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 Scot'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 Scot 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, most notably 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 appear between the F of OF and A of AMERICA, and one goes through the left side of the second T in STATES.
    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 single finest known, breathtaking 1795 Small Eagle five dollar. Breen-6414, BD-6, R.5. Census: 1 in 65 Prooflike, 1 finer (6/09).
    Ex: FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3135.
    From The Wisconsin Gold Type Set Collection.
    (Registry values: P5)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 25ND, PCGS# 8066)

    Weight: 8.75 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

    View all of [The Wisconsin Gold Type Set Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2009
    31st-2nd Friday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 12,107

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