Q. David Bowers: The following narrative, with minor editing, is from my "Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., 1993). Note: the Notable Specimens list should be used with caution - it has been updated in my 2013 edition of "The Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars 1794-1804."
OBVERSE 2: 13 Stars (standard star count of the year), arranged 7 left and 6 right. Close date, knob 9, figures 98 close. Squared-off bottom to 7. The space between stars 6 and 7 is wider than the spaces between any stars 1 through 6. On the right, the space between stars 10 and 11 is wider than the spaces between any stars 8 through 13. Ray of star 13 points at junction of bosom and drapery.
Obverse die used to strike 1798 BB-82 (earlier use) and BB-91 (later use).
REVERSE B: Small Eagle, Large Letters style.
Struck from the same die used to strike 1797 BB-73. Eight berries in left branch. Lowest berry near ribbon bow is on inside of wreath. E of STATES lightly repunched. A leaf points to the left corner of the I in UNITED, another leaf points to the left corner of the first T in STATES while another leaf points to the very end of the 0 in OF. Another leaf is positioned away from the R in AMERICA.
This reverse die was used earlier to strike 1797 BB-73 dollars, Die States I through IV, then removed from the press and used to strike 1798 BB-82 Die State I (with cracks slightly advanced from 1797 Die State IV) and Die State II (equivalent to 1797 BB-73 Die State V), then the striking of 1798 BB-82 dollars was discontinued, and the reverse die was remated with the same 1797 obverse, and additional1797 BB-73 dollars were struck.
Reverse die used to strike 1797 BB-73 and 1798 BB-82.
Die State I: Obverse perfect (not relapped). Reverse as preceding. May not exist.
Die State II: Obverse die relapped. Highest wave of hair not fully defined. Lowest curl, near date, is incomplete. Stars
somewhat spidery. REVERSE: Crack in the field from the border above the upper left of D to the border above upper right of first T in STATES. Irregular vertical crack between branch and side of eagle's right (observer's left) wing. Light crack connects denticle with upper part of second T in STATES and continues downward to branch. Crack from right base of I (in AMERICA) to branch. Crack from center of E through D continuing through S, curving upward to border through T. Crack from same T through ES to topmost palm leaf. Crack from tops of OF through center of AM. (Equivalent to die state intermediate between 1797 Die State IV and V)
Die State III: Bolender-1a. (Equivalent to 1797 BB-73 Die State V) Obverse as preceding. Reverse with die cracks slightly advanced. Crack connecting denticle with upper part of second T in STATES and continuing downward to branch is now much heavier from denticle to top of T. Crack develops from left base of N in UNITED and goes through leaf tip to connect with earlier crack from right base of I to branch. Cf. Bowers and Merena, Somerset Collection, 1992, Lot 1318.
COLLECTING NOTES: Of the two 1798 die varieties with Small Eagle reverse (BB-81 and BB-82), 1798 BB-82 is the more plentiful, but only by a slight margin. 1798 BB-82 is the only 1798-dated dollar with 13 obverse stars in combination with the Small Eagle reverse; all others are mated with the Heraldic Eagle reverse.
An estimated 700 to 1,000 1798 BB-82 silver dollars exist. Several hundred specimens exist, most of which are VF. EF examples are quite scarce, and any coin in better grade is rare. True Mint State coins are great rarities. I am not aware of any Mint State coin sold in recent years. The Thomas Cleneay listing below is "ancient history" numismatically.
Cleneay Specimen. MS-64. The Thomas Cleneay Collection gem (Chapman brothers, 1890) may be the only truly Mint State example known and is arbitrarily designated as MS-64.
Farouk Specimen. AU-55. King Farouk Collection, Palace Collections, Sotheby's, Cairo, Egypt, 1953. AJ. Ostheimer, 3rd Collection, Lester Merkin, 1968: 244. "Practically Uncirculated. Unworn, but showing signs of old cleaning, nowhere serious; much original mint frost; not too well struck up in centers, though more than half of breast feathers and part of leg feathers remain visible."
Kagin Specimen. AU-55. Metropolitan Washington Convention Sale, Kagin's, 1980: 708. "Choice AU"55. Excellent sharpness of bust detail. and stars with some faint 'Mint equalization' marks noted. Usual softly struck eagle on reverse but wreath is exceptionally bold and well defined. Lovely deep lavender on obverse with splashes of green and red." GENA Convention Sale, Kagin's, 1981:1336. GENA Convention Sale, Kagin's, 1982: 456.
Stirling Specimen. AU-50+. Mid-Winter ANA Auction, Heritage, 1986 Warren Miller Collection.
DeCoppet Specimen. AU-50. James Kelly, 1955. "Practically Uncirculated with some mint lustre."
Hollinbeck-Kagin Specimen. AU-50. September, 19'70: 884. "Nearly Uncirculated with lovely bluish golden color."
George III Counterstamp, Octagonal counters tamp with portrait of George III, impressed by the Bank of England, to use the silver dollar as one of many substitutes for British five-shilling pieces, which at the time were scarce in circulation.' Howard D. Gibbs Collection, Hans M.F. Schulman, 1960: 100. Host coin EF. "There is one other specimen known, U.S. dollar 1798 in the British Museum." Oval (earlier) and octagonal (later) counters tamps were applied by the Bank of England on Spanish eight reales pieces (primarily) bearing the portrait of King Charles. Numerous counterfeit counters tamp punches were made by unauthorized parties. An oval stamp is known on a Flowing Hair 1795 dollar.(Much of this information is from Dr. Robert Stark, letter to the author, January 1,1993)
Bruce Morelan, in an interview with PCGS in 2016, spoke about his Finest Known PCGS MS63 example: “The 1798 Small Eagle is again, another Newman coin. The thing that makes this coin unique is that it is the only 1798 Small Eagle that I've seen that actually has luster. Most of the graded MS61 and 62s, they're technically uncirculated, but you would kick them out of bed for eating crackers. This coin was called a gem when it was sold at auction in the 1890s. It's not a gem. It does have bag marks; it has been handled with other coins. But it has full, flowing luster and it's a unique 1798 Small Eagle for that attribute.”
Thomas Cleneay Collection - S.H. & H. 12/1890:933 - "Colonel" E.H.R. Green - Green Estate - Partnership of Eric P. Newman & B.G. Johnson (St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.) - Eric P. Newman, who paid $75.00 - Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society - Heritage 11/2013:33506, $258,500 - Bruce Morelan Collection
Heritage 8/2007:1717, $230,000 - Larry Hanks - D. Brent Pogue Collection - Stack's/Bowers & Sotheby's 5/2016:4019, $135,125
Warren Miller Collection - Kagin’s
Dr. Hesselgesser Collection - Goldbergs 5/2011:883, $356,500