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Robert Scott's designs for this denomination copied those of the quarter eagle. Ms. Libety's buxom draped and capped effigy continued from 1795 - 1797; the heraldic eagle derived from that of the Great Seal of the United States, but with the same blunder or ill-timed piece of saber rattling as on the smaller denominations: The warlike arrows are in the dexter or more honorable claw, outranking the olive branch for peace.
If the conjectured and reconstructed mintage figures of the previous section are correct, then eagle coinage of the new design must have begun with [10,840] between June 7, 1797, and Jan 30, 1798. These coins have only 13 reverse stars, evidently completed before that decision. Possibly 2% survive, mostly VF to EF.
Two of the three reverses have "cross" star arrangement (stars are in intersecting straight lines forming diamond-shaped patterns), as described in the introductory texts just cited; the third has the "arc" arrangement: a row of six paralleling clouds, a row of five under them, and the twelfth and thirteenth flanking beak and neck. The "cross" reverses are probably the earliest completed by whichever assistant or apprentice worked in 1798 - 1799; if later research in pay records locates his name and inclusive dates, we may be able to deduce time of manufacture and use of these dies, and more accurate mintage figures.
The great rarities of this period are the two vars. dated 1798/7. The two deliveries of [900] and [842], February 17 and 28, 1798, are believed to comprise, respectively, 6836 with stars 9 + 4, and 6837 with stars 7 + 6. Coinage of eagles was interrupted thereafter until May 14, 1799. Early breakage of both obverse dies may have been why.
In extreme contrast, the date 1799 (stars 8 + 5 henceforth) is one of the two most often seen of this design, the other being 1801. Between May 14, 1799, and September 4, 1800, [37,449] were struck, all believed dated 1799. Of the five obverses and seven reverse in 10 combinations, two are plentiful, forming the majority of survivors of this date; with the 1801, they comprise the majority of this design. About 2% survive, including many UNCs. Some of these reverse 1799 - 1803 may be half dollar dies.
Again in contrast, the single variety dated 1800 (believed to comprise only the [5,999] of November 18 - 25, 1800) is rare, especially in mint state; it's limited mintage is doubtless relevant to early breakage of obverse die. Possibly 2% or slightly less survive in all grades.
And still greater contrast, the date 1801 exists in two varieties, one (close date, eighth star far from cap: Breen 1-A, reverse of 1799 - 1800) Extreme rare; the other (wide date, eighth star very close to cap, reverse of 1803) commonest of all, 1795 - 1804. Mintage figure [44,344] includes [15,090] delivered in 1802 from 1801 - dated dies. At a survival ratio of about 2%, nearly 1,000 are around, many UNC.
Eagle of 1803 share a peculiarity with half eagle 1800 - 3: A single obv. die is combined with several very similar revers. Unlike the half eagle, but like the half dollars, the eagles fall into two naked-eye reverse types: small and large reverse stars, the small as in 1797 - 1801, the large as in 1804. Large stars are as wide as either S in STATES. The first of the two large stars reverse has traces of a small star within the rightmost cloud; the other die reappears with the single 1804 obverse. Minstate include [8,979] August 19 - October 1803 (Small stars?) plus [6,038] June 1 - December 11, 1804 (Large stars?); less than 2% survived the melting pots.
The final date, 1804, coinage of this denomination halted, pursuant to verbal orders from Pres. Thomas Jefferson. The reason was extensive meltings by bullion dealers, exactly as with the silver dollars; neither denomination would reappear in circulation for over 30 years. But as with the dollars, a proof-only 1804 with plain 4 and beaded bolded borders was a mysterious addition to the series.
The final variety remained unexplained until 1962. It was first pictured - without special comment in a photographic plate of Liberty heads in 1869 AJN; It's rare auction appearances were notable rarely because all specimens seen were proofs. Only with the discovery of the King of Siam's original cased proof set of 1834 for inclusion in the four cased proof sets intended for diplomatic presentation. They are rarer than the 1907 Rolled Edge with Periods or the 1933, and twice as rare as the 1804 dollar, but have not had the publicity of those. There are also yet had opportunity to study these to ascertain if they were made in 1834 or restruck in 1858 - 1860. If they are on half dollar planchets, weights will establish the time of issue as with the 1838 - 1839 half dollar patterns: Half dollar blanks 1794 - 1836 weigh 208 grs. = 13.48 gms.; 1853 - 1873, 192 grs. = 12.44 gms.
Even without the 1804 backdated proofs, the set of Heraldic eagles has become difficult to complete, partly because of high floor prices on even the least rare varieties, partly because type collector pressure has made the 1798/7 + 6 seem much rarer than it is.
1801 [44,344]
January 19, 1801 - December 30, 1802. Price for var. ill (Breen 2-B), with wide date, eight star close to cap., reverse of 1803; this often shows spines in cap. The other var. (Breen 1-A), with close to date, eight star away from cap, and reverse of 1800, is EXTREME RARE.


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

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