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1797 Small Eagle Draped Bust Gold Eagle PCGS AU53

2023-09-13 22:52:00
1797 Small Eagle Draped Bust Gold Eagle PCGS AU53

1797 Small Eagle Draped Bust Gold Eagle PCGS AU53

Ash Samuel Hart's Live Auction Featured Coin

Thursday, September 14th, 2023


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  • Mintage: 3,615 (50 to 60 known)
  • NGC Population: 4/15
  • PCGS Population: 9/15
  • CU Price Guide: $185,000
  • Smithsonian Specimen: Unc Cleaned
  • Finest Known: MS63 (1) - Last traded over a decade ago for approx. $300,000
  • Since then, one of the four MS62 examples publicly sold for $300,000 in 2020.
  • Partway through 1797, the reverse was changed from the original Small Eagle design to the new Heraldic Eagle, an adaptation of the Great Seal.
  • The 1797 $10 Small Eagle is also unique in United States Coinage as the only gold coin with the star arrangement of 12 stars to the left and 4 stars to the right.
  • Gold Eagles struck in 1796 feature 8 stars to the left and 8 to the right, while 1797 $10 Large Eagles display 10 to the left and 5 to the right.
  • While mint records account for 3,615 examples struck part way through the year, die evidence suggests that there is a possibility that some of these coins were dated 1796.
  • Therefore, the mintage of 3,615 pieces for the 1797 $10 Small Eagle could likely be higher than the true number. Nonetheless, roughly 50 examples are known today.
  • The ten-dollar gold eagle was the nation’s premier gold coin, intended as America’s face to the world and symbolically designated the “eagle,” after the national bird.
  • All other gold denominations were expressed as fractions of the eagle ($2.5 quarter eagle, $5 half eagle & $20 double eagle) and it remained as so until gold coinage was suspended in 1933.
  • Unfortunately, in 1804, President Thomas Jefferson halted the production of gold eagles due the melting of U.S. gold coins getting out of control. The melting was a direct corollary of the rise in world gold prices in response to France’s “Reign of Terror” and Napoleonic Wars.
  • Today few gold eagles exist from the original mintage figures as there are suggested to be no more than 1,000 surviving examples for any single gold eagle issue struck from 1795 to 1804, with most dates anticipated to have a surviving population of half of that, or even fewer.

  • Shown in the table above a total of 132,592 regular issue gold eagles were struck from 1795 to 1804, of which only 4,000 examples across all grades are suggested to have survived and are known today, roughly three percent of the total production – if that.
  • Among all Draped Bust Gold Eagles, the 1797 Small Eagle is one of the rarest issues across the series. The only dates that are considered scarcer are the 1795 9 Leaves and 1798/7 7x6 Stars of which are estimated to cost over $200,000 & $300,000 respectively in AU53 condition!
  • Over the last couple of years, only one other 1797 $10 Small Eagle in AU53 condition has hit the open market. This AU53 example sold in November of 2022, where it ended up realizing $174,000!