1795 $10 9 Leaves Reverse
BD-3, R.6. Designed by Robert Scot, an unknown (but presumably small) number of 1795 eagles (several different die pairings) were struck on March 1, 1796 on Warrant No. 58, which had a total mintage of 1,169 pieces; an additional 116 pieces were again struck on March 30, 1796, according to Breen. The BD-3 is, by far, the rarest 1795 eagle die pairing. An estimate of fewer than 500 pieces were struck with only about 20 surviving examples known in all grades. In fact, the 1795 9 Leaves is probably the rarest issue as there is in the entire 138-year history of the denomination. John Dannreuther writes, "It is not known whether the 9 leaves on the branch indicate an experiment or a die cutting error, but the fact that the reverse was changed to 11 leaves for 1796 and 1797 indicates that it was an intentional experiment. Perhaps the arrangement of 13 leaves was considered too crowded and grouping of 9 leaves was thought too sparse, leading to the introduction of 11 leaves on the branch in 1796."
According to history, at the time this was minted, gold coins were important public relations items for the United States -- ambassadors to the world, as it were. Because of this, care was taken to avoid releasing gold coins with die breaks or other blunders into circulation. Today, it is believed that there are approximately 20 examples known, making it the rarest of the seven known Small Eagle varieties this year.
The 1795 9 Leaves ten dollar, as a variety, become all the more popular in recent decades upon the release of new research into early gold coins. This variety was apparently known as early as 1926 when Waldo Newcomer paid $100 for a circulated example, several times the price for a more common 1795 13 Leaves variety. Since the 1960s, examples have been auctioned an average of once every two to three years.
This example exhibits a far better than average strike with the diagnostic die buckling in the field below the palm branch. The surfaces are mostly lustrous with the normal allotment of light handling marks. A couple of small marks are under ER of LIBERTY, a tiny black spot touches the lower right of the B, and another small mark is under ST of STATES on the reverse. Such minor ephemera are apparently common to most, if not all 9 Leaves coins, and their presence indicates nothing more than little pointers when differentiating one coin from another. The fields are semi-reflective, as often seen on 1795 eagles. An outstanding high grade example of the greatest rarity contained in the short-lived Small Eagle series of $10 gold coins, 1795-97. (PCGS 8552)