1799/8 $1 15 Reverse Stars MS (PCGS# 6883)
The March 2013 Baltimore Auction
Lot Number: 2076
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This high grade early silver dollar is bright and lustrous on both sides, with appealing golden accents blended into the surfaces from long and careful storage. Liberty's curls are boldly executed and show virtually complete separation on all but the uppermost temple curls which have a trace of wear from brief circulation. Free of adjustment marks or handling problems, and a prize for the specialist. Both the obverse and reverse are framed by long, bold and uniform dentils, imparted by the dies to protect the devices as much as possible from wear and impacts while in circulation--to that end these were quite successful in their appointed mission.<br />
In the regular Draped Bust dollar series, a few die pairings stand out with various interesting features. Overdates come to mind, of which there are two different, the 1799/8 and the 1802/1. Both are available, and in each case the previous digit is nearly as sharp as the secondary used for the overdate. Hence these are popular with collectors. Another type of blunder is this particular reverse die, where the engraver punched in too many stars over the eagle. As the Heraldic Eagle reverse for silver dollars was not adopted until 1798 the proper number of stars should have been 13, representing the original colonies by the time this die was engraved in 1799. Somehow the count was off, and 15 stars were punched in above the eagle. Normal policy at the time would probably have ignored this and the die used to strike coins anyway (such as the 1804 14 star reverse quarter eagle and dime) but apparently the engraver decided hide his blunder. The extra two stars were hidden by extending the two end clouds down over offending stars--but portions of the star points still extend out from the expanded clouds exposing the deed.