New Bust Dollar variety
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This week's issue of Coin World includes the announcement of a new die marriage for the 1803 silver dollar. It pairs Reverse B, previously known for one variety of 1803 (BB-255) and a few others dated 1801-02 with a previously unknown obverse die. This new die marriage has been labeled BB-257 by Mark Borckardt, co-author of the Bowers-Borckardt silver dollar encyclopedia. By extension, the equivalent Bolender number would be B-7, as this is the seventh die marriage for 1803.

 

The discovery was made by Randy Campbell of ICG, and the coin was then shown to me by Skip Fazzari of that company for my examination. I concurred with the conclusion already reached by Mark Borckardt that the obverse die is new to the hobby.

 

An observation of my own is that the die state of the reverse is identical to that of BB-255, so these die marriages were clearly struck one right after the other. Since the BB-257 marriage is so rare as to have escaped detection until now, that leads me to conclude that this marriage was the last one used for 1803 dollars. Coins of that date were struck into early 1804, until a presidential order terminated their production, along with that of gold eagles. It's very likely that coining with the BB-257 marriage had only just begun when the halt order was received. How many were actually produced with this previously unknown obverse is anyone's guess, but the number had to be very small.

 

Photos of the newly discovered coin may be found at the VarietyPlus website:

 

http://www.ngccoin.com/coin-varieties/flowing-hair-and-draped-bust-dollar-die-varieties-/1803-large-3-s1-bb-257-b-7-5624/

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Excellent! Congratulations to all involved -- and to their optometrists!

 

This illustrates that there is much to learn and discover.

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Nice write up and very cool discovery! If it were a half dollar the owner would have a rather valuable coin.....

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Thanks for the variety write up. All I can think for those who discover varieties like this is they must have a phenomenal memory across all the series. What are they going to do when these sharp graders retire? Randy Campbell is a real asset to the coin world.

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Hi David,

 

It's been a very long time since you had me thinking about USA Early Dollars, and this is quite an excellent reason to pique my interest!

 

I have some questions:

 

What do you think is the die state of this new obverse die? EDS or MDS? An EDS would support the assertion that 255 came before 257.

 

If 255 truly predates 257, do you think 257 predates 256 (low R.6 to high R.5)?

 

What is the reverse orientation relative to the obverse? (All known specimens of 255 has the reverse rotated a bit off.)

 

What is the size of the 3 of this new obverse die relative to other known 1803 obverse dies? Does it seem like a new punch?

 

There seems to be some artifacts by the 3. What do you think they are? Could they be traces of an under-date? If over-date, does the obverse die match a previously dated die?

 

EVP

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The obverse die of BB-257 is sharp, so it was new when paired with the reverse of BB-255. I did not see any repunching or other unusual features. The date numerals are the same used for BB-255, which is to say it has the Large 3 with upper serifs.

 

I did not detect any mis-alignment of the dies, though I was not specifically looking for that.

 

As I wrote in my original post, BB-257 almost certainly followed directly after BB-255, and I also believe that these marriages comprised the last two used for circulating Bust Dollar coinage. As with the cents dated 1803, the Large 3 dies were evidently created subsequent to the Small 3 dies. They may not have always been used in the same order, since the early U. S. Mint is notable for having used whatever dies were available when needed, regardless of their date, date style or manufacture sequence.

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David,

 

Unless I'm mistaken, the original BB number sequence tried to match the emission sequence. Therefore, it was presumed that for 1803-dated ED's, the emission sequence was: 251, 252, 254, 255, 256 (no known 253).

 

So the new emission sequence is "251/252/254/255/257/256" or "251/252/254/255/256/257"?

 

If the former, then why wouldn't there be more 257 and fewer 256? If the latter, then why would the new obverse die be paired with reverse of 255 instead of 256?

 

Or, the BB number sequence was only an honest attempt at doing the emission sequence, but maybe we need to re-think the emission sequence?

 

EVP

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Under the notes for BB-256, the authors wrote: "As BB-256 stands alone without die linkage to any other 1803 dollars, it is not possible to determine the striking sequence within the year."

 

Given that, I don't know why Bowers-Borckardt didn't number BB-256 as BB-255 to follow the other Small 3 varieties. That would have made BB-255 into BB-256, which would then segue nicely into BB-257, with which it shares a reverse die.

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Sounds like a isolated numbering situation-- "Here, pull a number form the hat."

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Ah, I overlooked that bit about 256. Thanks. In that case, things look better to me (not that I'm an authority on this stuff!).

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