Featured A Draped Bust, Small Eagle Type Set

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by johnmilton, Aug 3, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    When James Ruddy was selecting the coins for his Photograde book of United States coins, he stated that the hardest coins for him to find were the Draped Bust, Small Eagle type coins. If you are forming a type set of U.S. coins from 1792 to date, this group of coins is the spot where "the rubber meets the road." These coins are expensive, and they are hard to find. You be lucky to see any of them at the small coins shows, and you will see only a limited number at the large shows. Finding select examples for the grade is even harder.

    I started this set in the early 1980s. Since I have collected the early half dimes and dollars by date, I will provide few alternative coins to see which you prefer.

    1796 Half Dime.jpg

    This 1796 half dime is the highest grade piece I have at AU-58, CAC. This is a "glamor shot" that was supplied by the dealer. I have never been able to photograph this coin well. The 1796 half dime is rarer than the 1794 half dime.

    There is a overdate, 1796 over 5, which is very scarce. In the 1950's Walter Breen claimed that only about seven or eight existed and all but one of them were Uncs. His survey was too dependent upon big auctions. The truth is there are perhaps 50 of them. I missed the chance to get a decent example of that coin, have only a VG to "plug the hole."

    1797 15 St Half Dime.jpg

    This 1797, 15 star half dime is in an "old fatty" NCG AU-53 holder. It is probably better than that, but strike iissues limit the grade. All of these coins were poorly struck with the eagle showing little detail on the reverse, and the weak spot in the center of the obverse. This was my type coin for many years.

    1797 16 St Half Dime.jpg

    This 1797, 16 half dime is in some ways the best of the three, but the scratch on the bust resulted in a net grade to AU-53 in my opinion. Otherwise it would have been an AU-58. The dies were not clashed the way they were on the 1796 half dime, which opened this post.

    1796 Dime.jpg

    This 1796 dime is believed to be the first die pair that was used to make dimes. The diagnostic is the die cud to the left of the date.

    When I sent this into PCGS for grading, I figured that I would get a VF-35. I was surprised when it came back as an AU-50. Although here is enough luster there to make that grade, the obverse die was getting toward end of its life, and the hair detail is not strong. It also has a couple of adjustment marks on the reverse.

    I bought this piece in the early 1980s from a Boston bid wall operation.

    1796 Quarter.jpg

    The 1796 Quarter is type collector's treasure. It is a one year type with a mintage of 6,146. The survival rate was on the high side, however. I believe that about 350 of these exist in all grades. Under normal circumstances, the number of survivors would have been 120 or so.

    If you are in the market for one of these, don't reject it because the eagle's head is weak. They are almost all made that way. A piece with a "strong head" might be from a mint other than Philadelphia, if you follow my drift. This coin is PCGS graded VF-25. It came from the same bid wall as the 1796 dime.

    1796 Half Dollar.jpg

    The 1796-7 half dollar is the "holly grail" for type collectors. The combined mintage for the two years was 3,918. This one grades Fine-15. I had hoped to get a VF to match my 1796 Quarter, that was not met to be.

    In his type coin book, Dave Bowers estimated the surviving population of this type to be 220 to 325 pieces. He thought that there are 20 to 25 Mint State examples.

    This was a favorite coin for the legendary Ned Green who was the son of "the witch of Wall Street" Hetty Green. Ned was said to have had a small hoard of Proof-Like examples. I saw one of these at a large coin show in the mid 1970s. The price was $46,000. For me it might as well have been $46 million. Today that coin could sell for $1 million in the right venue.

    1795 Dr Bust Dollar.jpg

    The Draped Bust, Small Eagle dollar is the most common of the coins I have shown you in this thread. They are always available for a price. This one is graded AU-53. I like it, but some people don't because it's been dipped and re-toned a bit. I've had it for almost 10 years, so it's stable.

    1797 Dollar.jpg

    This 1797 dollar is graded EF-45, but I like it a little more than the previous piece. According to the dealer from whom I purchased this piece, the collector who had it was obcessed with buying original coins. Unfortunately he passed on, and his widow consigned the piece to that dealer. Original, lightly circulated early coins don't get much better than this one.

    These coins form "the heart" of a complete U.S. type set. As a group, these coins are as tough as it gets.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
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  3. micbraun

    micbraun coindiccted

    Great post and fantastic coins! I like the 1797 (16 star) half dime best, despite the small scratch on the bust. If you do mind the scratch, I‘d be happy to trade :-D
    johnmilton likes this.
  4. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    These are remarkably nice examples! I think my favorite is the 1796 quarter. So many of them have been mistreated over the years, but yours appears to be pretty much perfect for its grade.
    johnmilton likes this.
  5. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    The coin Col Green liked so much was the 1796 quarter not the small eagle half dollar. I suspect that paragraph some how got out of place and should be before the picture of the half dollar and not before the picture of the dollar.
  6. serdogthehound

    serdogthehound Active Member

    Great coins. I have always wanted a small eagle coin and think its really special design which I think well spoke to the young republic
    DBDc80 and johnmilton like this.
  7. kanga

    kanga 65 Year Collector Supporter

    Hit me right in the wheel house.
    The only two coins I'm missing for my type set are the quarter and half dollar small eagles.
    And they will stay missing for quite a while, most likely forever.
    My dime is an AU Details.
    And my half dime is a VF-25.

    I was offered a quarter in XF or AU (I can't remember).
    Asking Price: $65,000
    After picking myself up off the floor, all I said was, "Thank you for letting me look."
    Mainebill and johnmilton like this.
  8. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    According to what I have read, he had a smaller hoard of 1796 half dollars too.
  9. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The prices for the 1796 Quarter have gone up a lot since the 1980s. The day I bought the one you see above, there was another one on the same bid wall. As you can see this was not, "You average 'junky coin' bid wall operation." All of the big players in Boston came to buy there. That included JJ Teaparty and New England Rare Coin Galleries which was James Halprin's store before he merged with Steve Ivy to form Heritage.

    The second one was about 10 to 15 points higher in grade, and I couldn't swing that one. Fortunately, fate was on my side and I ended up with this one.

    Back in those days circulated early U.S. coins were not hot items in the coin market. If they had been, I would not have gotten this coin. All of the "big players" were buying "Gem Uncs." at strong prices.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
  10. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I bought that piece at a Baltimore show about four years ago. I didn't go there looking for it because I had the other variety of the 16 star 1797 half dime. When I saw this, I was drawn to the strike, which was excellent for the type, and the original surfaces. The other 16 star variety was paired with the small eagle that appears on the 15 star coin. It is never well struck.

    The price was not far from Grey Sheet bid, so I bought it. I’m glad I did. It’s one of my favorite half dimes.
    KSorbo and micbraun like this.
  11. DBDc80

    DBDc80 Numismatist

    Here is my 1st small eagle. Not the highest grade....but she's beautiful to me...:happy: 20181020_211919.jpg 20181020_212110.jpg
  12. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    ABCB7AC7-4FF5-4562-B500-48CF248BB8D3.jpeg C4B02E89-611D-4923-B536-1197F91686D9.jpeg My only example. Have other draped busts. Other small eagles. But this it. I love this design personally
  13. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the look see I like the posts.
    DBDc80 and johnmilton like this.
  14. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    You are so interesting. Don’t go on vacation. I’d miss you
  15. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    So happy for you. You must be very proud of your hard earned collection
    johnmilton likes this.
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