NGC Discovers Fourth Known Example of 1795 BB-16, B-20 Dollar

Posted on 1/15/2021

The rarity was found through NGC's VarietyPlus attribution service.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) recently certified the fourth known example of a rare variety of the 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar. The coin is attributed as BB-16, B-20. The submitter was unaware that it was a rare variety but still had judiciously selected the VarietyPlus® attribution service when submitting it to NGC.

The first dollars issued by the US Mint were the Flowing Hair ones dated 1794 and 1795, with the latter year using 19 die marriages from 10 obverse dies and 11 reverse dies. The BB numbers refer to the Bowers-Borckardt book of 1993 and its successor volume published in 2013, while the B numbers were devised by Milferd Bolender for his 1950 reference book that was later updated by Jules Reiver. NGC applies both numbers for coins submitted under its VarietyPlus service.

1795 Flowing Hair Dollar, BB-16, B-20 graded NGC Fine Details
Click images to enlarge

The obverse die of this marriage features the so-called “Head of ’94,” with Liberty’s cheek in slightly higher relief than on the “Head of ’95” and with a more rounded contour to the point of her bust. This same die was subsequently paired with two other reverses as BB-17 and BB-18. The reverse die for this marriage was previously paired with another obverse as BB-15. It is interesting to note that of the four die marriages related in some way to this pairing, all but BB-18 are rare.

The coin is graded NGC Fine Details, because it was cleaned. Three other examples are known, including two numerically graded (VF 35 and F 12) by another grading service and a third graded by Numismatic Conservation Services™ (an NGC affiliate that formerly graded coins) as VF Details – Holed, Damage. It is part of a Heritage Auctions sale ending January 22, 2021.

“Easily the most satisfying part of my job with NGC is attributing varieties,” said David W. Lange, NGC Research Director. “Sadly, most customers neglect to request our VarietyPlus® service when submitting early United States coins, so some potential rarities may go out the door with just a grade. Fortunately, that was not the case here.”

The newly discovered coin was submitted to NGC by Collectors Palace of Streetsboro, Ohio on behalf of its collector owner. Both parties have been informed of its rarity, but no plans for the coin have been announced.

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