BD-2, Rarity 6.
Inviting apricot-gold color and universally bold striking detail make this 1795 half eagle a strong candidate for an advanced gold type set. Most design elements are sharply detailed. In fact, the strike is expertly centered and forcefully executed. Satiny to modestly semi-prooflike in appearance, much of the original finish can be seen as the coin rotates under a light. As a high grade survivor of one of the rarer die marriages of the issue, this lovely coin also has tremendous significance for the early gold variety specialist.
1795 saw the introduction of the half eagle denomination to the young republic's economy. The Mint seems to have anticipated a large output of the new coins because they prepared more than enough dies to last past 1795. 1795-dated half eagles were struck from 12 identified die combinations well past 1795, one was even struck as late as 1798. Because of this extended period of production, the total mintage for the issue is rather uncertain. While most references indicate that 8,707 half eagles were coined in calendar year 1795, the Bass-Dannreuther study suggests the number could be as high as 12,106 if the die marriages used into later years are taken into account.
One of the first die pairings employed is BD-2. The obverse can be distinguished by the widely spaced date and star 11 touching the letter Y in LIBERTY. Both the obverse and reverse dies were fresh with no clashing, lapping, or cracks. The reverse die is identified by the four berries on the wreath and with the top left leaf terminating at the first N in UNITED. The BD-2 pair is one of the more challenging varieties of this date to locate, with an estimated 20 to 25 pieces known. Finely preserved examples are sought by advanced specialists looking to collect the issue by variety and also by type collectors seeking a specimen from the denomination's first year of issue. For collectors looking for a challenge, collecting the 1795 half eagles would be a quite rewarding experience. (8066)