1798 $1 Small Eagle, 15 Stars MS (PCGS# 6868)

Queller Family Collection of Silver Dollars

  • Auctioneer:
    Heritage Auctions
  • Lot Number:
    2016
  • Grade:
    MS60
  • Price:
    $74,750.00
Lot Description
1798 $1 Small Eagle, 15 Stars MS60 NGC. B-2, BB-81, R.3. Unrecorded Die State. The 1798 Draped Bust, Small Eagle BB-81 silver dollar is the only die marriage of the issue that has 15 stars. It is well known that Tennessee, the 16th state, joined the Union on June 1, 1796, so only dies produced before that date would logically have had 15 stars. Numismatists theorize that the 15 Stars die was produced in 1795 without a final digit, then finished with an 8 in 1798 and pressed into service. (Bowers and Borckardt note an alternative explanation, a simple die-cutting error similar to the 1817 15 Stars cent.) The 8 in the date is distinctive, with the top loop an oval lying on its side and the bottom loop a circle. This 8 is different from the 8 punches used for early-1800s dollars, and in fact is identical to the 8 punch used for the 1798 eagle gold coins. The Small Eagle reverse began to disappear from some coinage denominations, for example the gold half eagle and eagle, as early as 1797, but this Small Eagle reverse for the silver dollar was used in four consecutive years (at least according to the obverse dates), from 1795 through 1798, in pairings with six different obverse dies: the 1795 BB-51; the 1796 BB-62, BB-63, and (after relapping) the BB-66; the 1797 BB-72; and the 1798 BB-81. The reverse is easily distinguished by the presence of a berry under the A of STATES, but in this final incarnation for the reverse, the reverse definition is weak because of the noted relapping. This coin is in an unrecorded die state according to Bowers-Borckardt. While there is no evidence of a crack from under the chin to the border below star 15, there is a prominent die crack from between stars 6 and 7 to Liberty's hair ribbon. The highest hair curl is lapped and shows considerable incompleteness. This example displays numerous small contact marks on the central obverse, most of them only visible under a loupe, and elsewhere the light field chatter resolves only under magnificat
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