Unique 1797 Half Eagle Die Trial in Copper
1797 DT$5 Five Dollar, Judd-24, Pollock-40, Unique--Mint
Design. Both obverse and reverse dies were used to strike 1797 Small Eagle BD-4 half eagles. The berry on the right side of the wreath on the reverse is inside the wreath, the key diagnostic of the extremely rare BD-4 variety. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.
Commentary. This issue is an original die trials piece from 1797. It was defaced at the Mint to prevent possible counterfeiting (it would be a simple matter to gild the piece, and five dollars was a lot of money in 1797). Miraculously preserved, this piece has been known to numismatists since the 1890s. The dies were used to strike an extremely rare variety of 1797 half eagle, BD-4, with only a single example known today. The BD-4 variety was unknown until Robert P. Hilt discovered a specimen in the Byron Reed Collection in 1972. Harry Bass purchased that coin at the sale of the Byron Reed Collection (Spink, 10/1996), lot 99, and it now resides in the Harry Bass Research Foundation. Because of this unique copper pattern, the BD-4 reverse die was known to the numismatic community for almost a century before the single gold example was discovered. Unique, the only specimen known. The coin has been off the market for 20 years, and it may not be offered again for decades.
Physical Description. While not a thing of beauty, this coin has character and unparalleled historic charm. Heavy blows from a blunt instrument have distorted the devices on both sides, but enough detail survives to identify the design. The dark brown surfaces have been well preserved, and the romance of the early Mint enhances every detail.
Provenance. Ex: Woodside Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 4/1892), lot 7; Virgil Brand; Forty-First Catalog (New Netherlands, 9/1953), lot 419; Matt Rothert Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1973), lot 1266; Breen II (Pine Tree, 6/1975), lot 332; Everson and Faught (Bowers and Merena, 6/1988), lot 281.
From The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two. (NGC ID# 294Z, PCGS# 11068)
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
View all of [The Lemus Collection, Queller Family Collection Part Two ]
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