New obverse and reverse die combination on a 1798 Draped Bust silver dollar. Image courtesy PCGS
There’s been a big discovery in early American numismatics.
Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) has authenticated a long-speculated but never-before-confirmed new obverse and reverse die combination on a 1798 Draped Bust silver dollar. This new die marriage was struck from known obverse and reverse dies, but this is first known example with this combination.
“The obverse die used for striking this coin is the one used for 1798 B-13, BB-108 and for 1798 B-10, BB-109. The Heraldic Eagle design reverse is the die used for 1798 B-18, BB-103 and 1798 B-22, BB-104. This discovery coin is confirmation of a new die marriage,” said PCGS President Don Willis.
“It is always exciting when major new discoveries are made. There may still be many great things yet to be found and enjoyed in numismatics.”
PCGS attributes early U.S. dollars, 1794 to 1804, by both Bolender (B) and Bowers-Borckardt (BB) reference numbers. The new die marriage has been referenced as 1798 B-34, BB-126.
In 1950, Milford H. Bolender published The United States Early Silver Dollars from 1794 to 1803, a reference book based on his own specialized collection of Bust dollars. The book was revised by Jules Reiver in 1998.
A second, widely used reference book, Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, Vol. One, was authored in 1993 by Q. David Bowers and Mark Borckardt. Borckardt, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger at Heritage Auctions, assisted PCGS with the attribution of the discovery coin, and believes it was struck during the early die state of both dies.
The 1798 dollar coin now has been certified as PCGS Cleaned With V(ery) F(ine) Details. It attracted immediate attention in the grading room at PCGS headquarters in Orange County, California.
“Some in the grading room were fascinated! It is not every day something new is discovered in U.S. numismatics, and there was a bit of a buzz,” recalled Steven Poliquin, PCGS Grader/Variety Attributor.
“It is a good feeling to be a part of something that is new and exciting. I hope this coin fits well into someone’s collection.”
PCGS CoinFacts™ President Ron Guth declared: “It’s a great discovery!”
There was speculation for decades that this die combination might exist, and now that conjecture has become fact.
Colorado collector and early American dollars researcher W. David Perkins, who also assisted PCGS with the coin’s attribution, stated:
“It is somewhat important to note that the strike on the reverse of this new 1798 B-34, BB-126 die marriage is very similar to the strike on the 1798 B-18, BB-103. There are only six specimens of the extremely rare B-18, BB-103 die marriage known to me. All six are in lower grades, and have a similar strike and look. All are in lower grades with the finest known graded PCGS F15.”
“As the obverse (for 1798 B10, BB-109) was used later to coin more 1798 BB-18s, one wonders what happened to this reverse die. Why was its use interrupted? Perhaps, somewhere ‘out there’ is a BB-109 exhibiting a sudden, massive reverse die failure.
“Although we don’t have a new die state showing massive die failure for 1798 B-10, BB-109 die marriage, as was anticipated, we now know that this reverse die was used at least one other time, in striking the new 1798 B-24, BB-126 die marriage.”
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