A Look at the Fascinating 1795 Small Eagle Half Eagle

15 Dec 2017  Fri

The Federal Mint has created the 1795 Small Eagle Half Eagle and one of the two first gold coins. There were a total of 8,707 struck and hundreds exist. It is by far the most available issue of the Small Eagle type (there were also half eagles with this design made in 1796, 1797, and 1798) but it is far and away the most popular.

It is very easy to locate a 1795 Small Eagle half eagle with natural colour and choice surfaces.

Most 1795 Small Eagle half eagles have a washed-out appearance from numismatic mishandling. There is minimal wear with just some minor friction noted on the cheek – plus some luster breaks in the left obverse field.

Let’s look at two other AU58 1795 Small Eagle half eagles that have sold in 2017. The first coin, which brought $70,500 as Lot 5838 in Heritage’s 2017 FUN auction, is very “meaty”, with lots of remaining luster but its bright surfaces clearly indicate dipping.

The second coin is also graded AU58 by PCGS but it only brought $54,050. It was offered as Lot 2309 in the Stack’s Bowers March 2017 auction. The obverse, even though lacked original colour, wasn’t bad; note the exceptional hair detail and the lack of obvious wear on the cheek.

The reverse, however, was another story. There was a detracting mark to the right of the final A in AMERICA, as well as other marks below the right wing. Note, as well, what appears to be some possible smoothing at the U in UNITED.

The demand for great early gold coins should continue, and specific issues like the 1795 Small Eagle half eagle should show the greatest interest due to its multiple levels of demand. Fewer and fewer really nice AU coins will be available in the future as coins like this tend to be placed into long-term private collections.

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