The 1795 BD-3 Capped Bust Eagle $10 gold coin is a Rarity 6 variety with an expected surviving population of 20 to 22 pieces. As such, this is the scarcest die pairing of the issue and is therefore considered a major rarity of an already rare early-date U.S. gold issue – listed among the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.
What distinguishes the variety is the “9 Leaves” reverse, meaning there are nine leaves on the palm branch on the reverse instead of 13, which are found on the other variety of gold eagle also struck in 1795. The 9 Leaves variety was discovered by William H. Woodin, an avid collector, who is best known for his stint as Treasury Secretary during the 1933 gold recall. He purchased his example from Waldo Newcomer in 1926 for $100 USD. It wasn’t until 1960 that a second example surfaced.
John Dannreuther, perhaps the most knowledgeable early U.S. gold coin expert active in the hobby today, estimates a total mintage of 210 to 500 coins with this die marriage. And out of those scant survivors, the current specimen is thought to be the finest known at MS-63+ and is the only 9 Leaves 1795 eagle to receive approval by CAC as strong for the grade. It has generous helpings of mint frost on the obverse and a sharp, pleasing strike. Adjustment marks on the eagle’s breast are typical for the issue, as are the die cracks present at the first “T” in STATES and the “A” in AMERICA.
This example’s noteworthy pedigrees include the D. Brent Pogue and Bob R. Simpson collections. It brought $1,057,500 at the 9/2015 Pogue sale.
At the time of writing, the high bid is $1,050,001 after 15 bids. Bidding for this item ends on Sunday, May 7, at 7:18:25 Pacific Time (10:18:25 Eastern).
Robert Scot, the first Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, designed the first type of the gold $10 eagle denomination: the Capped Bust Right obverse paired with the Small Eagle reverse, which was struck from 1795 to 1797. It features a bust of Lady Liberty wearing either a pileus or a Phrygian cap facing right. Because of how Liberty’s hair is positioned over the cap, many have described her headgear as a “turban”; indeed, the type is often known as the Turban Head eagle. Along the left rim behind Liberty are 10 stars, and along the right rim of the coin in front of her are an additional five stars, making a total of 15 stars – one for each state in the Union as of 1795. In between these blocks of stars, and along the upper right quadrant of the rim, is the word LIBERTY. beneath the truncation of Liberty’s neck is the date 1795.
Running clockwise along three-quarters of the rim on the reverse is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. A strangely slender “eagle” (if one could call it that) stands in the center of the coin, its wings outstretched and its head turned to the right (its left). In its beak, the eagle holds a wreath; in its talons, it clutches a palm frond. The frond of the 9 Leaves variety features nine weedy-looking leaves, while the leaves on the 13 Leaves variety are noticeably heartier and occupy more of the “canvas”.
The edge of the 1795 Capped Bust Right gold eagle is reeded. Reeding was, of course, one of the ways that the early Mint attempted to fight counterfeiting.
Bidding on this coin ends on Sunday, May 7, at 7:18 PT (7:20 ET).
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