TURBAN HEAD TEN
DOLLARS OR EARLY GOLD EAGLES (1795-1804)
of the Early Gold Eagles were minted from 1795 - 1804.
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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.
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.
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
found in XF to AU condition. Only 51 to 59 are known
to exist. The finest certified is a single MS63 example.
EAGLE AND SHIELD
Draped Bust Eagle, Large
Eagle Reverse 1797-1804
Weight: 17.50 grams
Composition: .9167 gold, .0833 silver and copper
Diameter: approximately 33 millimeters
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
1804 Thomas Jefferson was reelected
with George Clinton as his vice president.