About Us
Coins For Sale
Selling Your Coins
Rare Coin Archives
Coin Collecting
Investing in Coins
Coin Information
Coin Articles
/World Coins
Books, Loupes etc.
Link to Us
Contact Us
  Sign up for our free NewsLetter
  Sign Up 





Gold Early Eagle
All of the Early Gold Eagles were minted from 1795 - 1804. U.S. Rare Coin Investments is one of the largest Rare Coin Dealers, Gold Coin Dealers specializing in Early Gold Eagles and all type of Gold Coins, Rare Coins.

The early Gold Eagles had two major varieties. The first is known as the small eagle design because of the scrawny eagle on the reverse. The second is the heraldic design whose reverse is derived from the Great Seal of the United States.
Since its issuance in 1795, the eagle was not a particularly popular coin. It was inconvenient in that it was too large for small transactions and too small for large sums. Since foreign coins were legal tender in the United States at this time, banks tended to use them because they were more familiar and more convenient than the eagle.

The coin’s designer, Robert Scot, probably used a Roman copy of a Greek god for the obverse. He added drapery and an oversized cap. The cap is not a Phrygian or liberty cap, which was a tight fitting felt cap worn by former slaves or gladiators after they were released. It seems to be more a high-fashion 1790’s style of ladies’ headwear and is similar to a cap worn by Martha Washington in some portraits. The draped bust is truncated, which is actually mistaken Greco-Roman classicism. The ancients would truncate a bust and then insert it on to a draped statue. The reverse is an adaptation of a sketch of a Roman cameo. The bird is difficult to compare to any bird known except perhaps a long-necked chicken with large wings. It holds a laurel wreath in its mouth and stands on what looks like a palm branch. On worn or weakly struck examples, one cannot tell if the eagle’s front or back is facing us. The 1795 obverse had 15 stars, one for each state. The next two years added a star for Tennessee as the sixteenth to join the Union. Interestingly enough, the sixteen stars are arranged differently on coins for these two years.

The heraldic or second design type reverse was used from 1797 to 1804. Taken from the Great Seal of the United States, the design is actually incorrect. Scott reversed the position of the warlike arrows and the olive branch. The resulting symbolism is either an extremely martial stance of saber-rattling or a stupid blunder. If a blunder, it was blindly followed for many denominations that Scot designed. These eagles all have thirteen stars on the obverse. Evidently it was realized that adding a new star for each state would eventually be impractical. Similarly, there are thirteen stars on the reverse above the eagle.

In 1804 President Thomas Jefferson ordered that production of this denomination be halted because, as with silver dollars of the time, there was extensive melting for bullion. The price of the precious metal content exceeded the value of the coins. The issue contains one great rarity, an 1804 proof with a mintage of four. The coin is actually a restrike, one of which was included in the famous “King of Siam” original proof set of 1834.

Found with 13 or 9 Leaves in the palm branch below the eagle. The 9 Leaves variety is much rarer with only 19 to 23 pieces known. The 13 Leaves is very rare especially in Mint State. The finest certified is a single MS66 example. The 9 Leaves is exceedingly rare in Mint State. The finest certified are 4 in MS63.1795 $10 NGC MS61 13 Leaves
Usually found in circulated condition with weak centers and clashed dies. Vertical die crack sometimes down center of obverse. The finest certified is a single MSPL63. 1796 $10 Gold Eagle NGC AU55
Usually found in XF to AU condition. Only 51 to 59 are known to exist. The finest certified is a single MS63 example.


Draped Bust Eagle, Large Eagle Reverse 1797-1804

Weight: 17.50 grams
Composition: .9167 gold, .0833 silver and copper
Diameter: approximately 33 millimeters
Edge: reeded

The Draped Bust Eagle, Large Eagle Reverse was issued from 1797 to 1804. It continued the Draped Bust design also known as the Capped Bust to Right or Turban Head motif for the obverse, and it introduced the Heraldic Eagle or Large Eagle reverse. Except for the number and arrangement of the stars, the obverse is essentially the same as on the Draped Bust, Small Eagle coin. It shows a matronly bust of Liberty facing right in profile. She wears a high, soft cap which resembles a turban because heavy strands of her hair wrap around it and also fall to her shoulder. LIBERTY is at the upper right of the coin with stars to its left and right. The date is below the truncation.

The reverse designed by either Robert Scot or John Smith Gardner shows a large heraldic eagle for its main device. It holds in its right talon a bundle of arrows and in the left, an olive branch. Across the right wing and the neck of the eagle is a scroll with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Above the eagle’s head is a galaxy of stars with clouds above it. The whole is surrounded by the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with dentils at the peripheries on both sides.

It is not clear why the positions of the arrows and olive branch are mixed up. The arrows held in the wrong claw signify defiant militarism. Either the engraver made an error copying the image of the Great Seal, or he deliberately changed the symbolism in keeping with very warlike stance. Considering that the United States at this time was engaged in a naval war with France (the undeclared Franco-American War of 1798 to 1800, which took place on the East coast of North America and the Caribbean and resulted in the end of French privateer attacks on U.S. shipping), the latter is probably more likely. The French would be especially sensitive to a message within the heraldry, and the young United States was brash in that they had just defeated the super power, England in gaining independence.

Dannreuther and Bass in their Early U.S. Gold Varieties, identify eight styles of Draped Bust, Large Eagle eagles. Styles 1, 2, and 3 have a sixteen star 10+6 arrangement. Style 1 reverse has a Long Thin Neck on the eagle. Style 2 has a Long Thick Neck. Style 3 has a Short Thin Neck. Styles 4 to 8 all have thirteen star arrangements. Style 4 has 9+4 obverse stars with a Short Thick Neck on the eagle. Style 5 has 7+6 obverse stars with a Short Thin Neck on the eagle. Styles 6 to 8 all have 8+5 obverse stars. Style 6 has Small Obverse Stars and a Short Thick Neck on the eagle with Small Reverse Stars. Style 7 has Large Obverse Stars and a Short Thick Neck with Small or Large Reverse Stars. Style 8 has Large Obverse Stars and an eagle with a Short Thick Neck with Medium Reverse Stars.

Scot was born in 1744 in Edinburgh, Scotland or England. (Documentary evidence is lacking as to where he was born.) He was trained as a watchmaker in England and learned engraving afterwards. He moved to the United States in 1777, where he worked as an engraver of plates, bills of exchange, and office scales. During the Revolution, he was an engraver of paper money. In 1780 he was made the State Engraver of Virginia. He moved to Philadelphia the next year. He was appointed Chief Engraver of the United States Mint on November 23, 1793 by David Rittenhouse, Mint Director. Scot’s ability to make dies was limited, and in his advanced years he had failing eyesight. His work was somewhat less than that done in Europe at the time, and Scot was criticized for its poor quality. He was responsible for designs of most of America’s first coins.

John Smith Gardner was an Assistant Mint Engraver from 1794 to 1796. Very little is known about his personal life. He was never fully commissioned, and it is not known how much engraving work was done by Gardner and how much was Robert Scot’s. Some researchers feel that Gardner did most of the work during this time. Gardner resigned from the Mint in March 1796 and was rehired for a short time in the summer.


First $10.00 coin using the Heraldic Eagle design. Can be found in XF to AU condition. The finest certified is a single MS64 example.
Some are 1798/7 overdates. Found with two different star configurations on the obverse (9 on the left with 4 on the right or 7 on the left and 6 on the right). The finest certified 9X4 is a single MS63. The finest certified 7X6 is a single MS62 example.
Found with Small and Large obverse stars. The Small Stars punch broke and was replaced with the Large Stars. The finest certified Small Stars are 11 in MS64. The finest Large Stars certified is a single MS66 example.
All show a double punched Star 7 and many have a die crack across the top of LIBERTY. The finest certified is a single MS65 example. NGC has certified a “Specimen 65” coin that displays proof characteristics.
This date is the most available in Mint State. The finest certified are 5 in MS65. 1801 Eagle Gold Eagle
Found with Small and Large reverse stars and with a 14 Star reverse of which about 100 are known in all grades. The Small Stars version is the most available. The finest certified is a single MS65 example. The rarer Large Stars has as its finest certified example a single MS65. The 14 Star reverse has as its finest certified example a single MS66.
Circulation strikes all have Crosslet 4s; only 85 to 95 are known in all grades. The finest certified is a single MS64 example. The Proofs all have 4s with no Crosslet. Only 4 proofs are known in all grades.

Significant events 1797 to 1804:

1797 John Adams was inaugurated president with Thomas Jefferson as his vice president

1797 The XYZ Affair led to the Franco-American War, also known as the Quasi-War

1798 The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed. They increased the residency requirement for citizenship and allowed the president to deport or imprison aliens who were dangerous to the United States. They also restricted speech critical of the federal government.

1798 Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were passed declaring the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional. They said that states had the right to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional that were not authorized in the Constitution.

1799 Frie’s Rebellion took place. It was an armed tax revolt among Pennsylvania Dutch farmers between 1799 and 1800 protesting a tax levied directly on houses, lands, and slaves. Since there were few slaves in Pennsylvania, the tax was assessed on people’s houses and land was not in proportion to the population. Fries and two others were tried for treason and sentenced to be hanged. President Adams pardoned Fries and the others using a narrow constitutional definition of treason.

1800 Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were tied in the Electoral College.

1801 The House of Representatives elected Jefferson and Burr became his vice president.

1803 In Marbury v. Madison the Supreme Court was allowed to invalidate a law passed by the Congress for the first time. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It defined the separate executive and judicial branches of government.

1803 The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of 828,000 square miles or France’s territory in North America for a total sum of approximately 15 million dollars or about 42 cents per acre. The land purchased contained all or some of 15 present states and two Canadian provinces. At the time of the purchase, it faced domestic opposition because it was thought to be unconstitutional. Jefferson felt it was right to acquire the territory because he could remove France’s presence in the region and would protect trade access to New Orleans and free passage on the Mississippi River.

1803 Ohio became a state.

1804 New Jersey abolished slavery.

1804 The Burr-Hamilton duel took place. Hamilton died as a result.

1804 Lewis and Clark set out on their expedition.

1804 Thomas Jefferson was reelected with George Clinton as his vice president.


Gold Eagles - Turban Head Ten Dollars - Turban Head Gold Eagle

US Rare Coin Investments 2003 - 2015 U.S. Rare Coin Investments

Have a question? Contact us here

Have a friend who might be interested?
Inform them about us now!
Your E-mail: Your Name: Friend's E-mail: Friend's Name:
Send to a Friend