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    Description

    1797/5 Capped Bust Right Five, MS61
    Rare Large Eagle, 15 Stars, BD-7
    Condition Census Example

    1797/5 $5 Large Eagle, 15 Stars, BD-7, High R.6, MS61 PCGS. Seven varieties of 1797-dated half eagles are known to numismatists today, four with a Small Eagle reverse and three with the Large Eagle motif. Two of the Large Eagle varieties (BD-5 and BD-6) are each represented by a single known example, and both of those coins are included in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. This coin represents the only collectible Large Eagle variety, the rare BD-7, with a surviving population of 16-20 examples in all grades. One of the BD-7 survivors is also in the Smithsonian and a second specimen is in the Bass Core Collection at the ANA Money Museum.

    The BD-7 obverse was overdated from an unused die from 1795, making it easy to identify. The BD-7 is one of the most noticeable overdates in all of American coinage, every bit as bold as the 1918/7-D Buffalo nickel and the 1918/7-S Standing Liberty quarter. It appears that the final digit in the date was overpunched with no effort to efface the undertype 5. David Akers believed the 1797/5 was probably struck in late 1797 or early 1798, along with the anomalous 1798 Small Eagle varieties, but Robert Hilt thought these coins might be the remainders of the 470 half eagles delivered on July 8, 1797. This was the only use of the obverse die, but the reverse was used previously to strike the unique BD-6 example in the Smithsonian Institution.

    The overdate feature was noticed by catalogers as early as Woodward's Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (3/1865), but the issue was often just identified by the Large Eagle reverse in early lot descriptions. One early appearance was in lot 872 of the John Colvin Randall Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 6/1885):

    "1797 Fifteen stars; rev., large eagle; nearly proof, and excessively rare. Mr. Haseltine says the half eagles of 1797 are equal in rarity to the silver dollars of 1804. I considered this statement within bounds when it was made; it is certainly true, since the recent impulse has been given to the manufacture of 1804 dollars."


    The lot realized $51, a strong price at the time. Recent sales include the AU55 PCGS Gold CAC example in lot 5843 of the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2017), that realized $211,500.

    The present coin is a delightful MS61 example, the second-finest certified at PCGS, behind the Pogue MS62+ specimen. It is tied with two MS61 NGC coins for second place in the Condition Census for the issue (4/19). This piece exhibits sharply detailed peripheral design elements, with some localized softness on Liberty's hair and the eagle, due to some planchet adjustment marks on the reverse that were not completely struck out. The vivid orange-gold surfaces are lightly marked for the grade and show a mix of satiny mint luster and prooflike reflectivity in sheltered areas. The overall presentation is most attractive for this important early gold rarity.
    Ex: James Stack Collection (Stack's, 10/1994), lot 1036; Pittsburgh Elite Coin Auction (Superior, 8/2004), lot 978. (NGC ID# BFX4, Variety PCGS# 519872, Base PCGS# 8077)

    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
    June, 2019
    6th-9th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 38
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,714

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