This small eagle escaped the melting pot... and soared to $184,000 in Dallas


Heritage's recent 2011 June Long Beach Signature US Coin Auction, held at the Long Beach Coin and Collectibles Expo in California, US, brought yet more success to the firm.

Overall, the auction realised more than $11.9m with an impressive 96% of lots selling.

The top coin in the auction was a 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar with the Two Leaves reverse, pedigreed to the Jascha Heifetz collection. It was billed as "one of the finest 1795 Two Leaves dollars of any variety."

The 1795 B-2 dollar is a slightly scarcer die combination compared to its siblings the B-1 or B-5 (both of which are the two commonest 1795 Flowing Hair dollar varieties).

'One of the finest 1795 Two Leaves dollars of any variety,' the 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar 

Current estimates of the total number of survivors of the B-2s are somewhere between 200 and 500 coins, most likely at about the midpoint of that range. Most of the survivors fall into the Fine 15 or XF40 ('extremely fine') range in terms of quality.

Few remain in the AU grades (almost uncirculated - meaning there are traces of wear on the coin's highest points), and Mint State examples are particularly rare. In the end, rarity and quality were the only reasons collectors and alternative investors needed to push bids on this coin to a final $253,000.

Another product of the same year, a Choice 1795 small eagle five dollar from the very rare BD-2 die pairing, brought $184,000.

Although collectors today tend to think of the rarer half eagles of the 1810s and 1820s - the 1815 and 1822 chief among them - the Choice 1795 small eagle five dollar was also a victim of the mass gold rush meltings of the 1830s that virtually extinguished certain coin issues.

Overshadowed no longer: the $184,000 Choice 1795 small eagle five dollar

While the half eagle was the most important gold denomination to the early U.S. Mint (which at that time, 1793, had been open for just two years) it was perhaps inevitable that the 1795 Small Eagle coins would fall into relative obscurity.

A survivor from the 8,707 Choice 1795 small eagle five dollars originally minted, this coin is estimated to be one of between 20-75 extant (it's rated R.6 for rarity). Combined with its "near-Gem level" quality, the final sale of $184,000 was of no surprise.

All prices shown above include 15% Buyer's Premium.


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