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."
Obv: Portrait II (Head of '95)
Rev: Eagle I, Wreath I (2 leaves)
Exists with silver plug at center.
OBVERSE 6: Flowing hair in five prominent curls, with a thin faint additional curl below the third curl from the top. Innermost point of star 1 just touches lowest curl. The curl continues upward to half close the loop. Head high and closer to LIBERTY than on most other obverses. The date is wide, with more space between 1 and 7 than other figures. The 7 in the date was repunched over an erroneous 1, prompting some to catalogue the variety as 1795 over 1195. The erroneous 1 is especially visible on early die states .. This die bears a very close resemblance to the die used to coin BB 15; especially with regard to the high position of the head and the relationship of the hair curl the first 'star.
As is the case with the obverse used to coin BB-27, the present obverse (also used to coin BB-22 and BB-23) had the head of Miss Liberty deeply impressed into the die, causing it to be in slightly higher relief than most other varieties of the year; because of this, the hair details wore away quickly as the coins circulated.
Obverse die used to strike 1795 BB-21, BB-22, and BB-23.
REVERSE G: See description under BB-20. Two leaves under each wing.
Reverse die used to strike 1795 BB-20, BB-21, and BB-24.
Die State I: Perfect dies.
COLLECTING NOTES: 1795 BB-21 is a very common variety. Indeed, it is second only to BB-27 in terms of its widespread availability. I have handled well over 100 since 1953, and this is without any special effort to acquire the variety. I estimate that about 1,500 to 2,500 exist. Most of these have been bought and sold privately. However, as nearly every specialized collection has had one, many have crossed the auction block over the years.
This variety can be found well struck, with sharp centers to the stars on higher-grade examples.
1795 BB-21 is especially plentiful in lower grades, with the average being in the range of VF-20 to 35. EF specimens, while elusive, are not rare. AU specimens occasionally are seen, and a dozen or more true Mint State coins exist in private hands.
Auction '84 Specimen. MS-64 Auction '84 (Stack's, 1984): Lot 1180, "Gem Brilliant Uncirculated, perfectly struck but planchet adjustment marks, stars needle-sharp with full radial lines, veins on leaves apparent, considerable prooflike surface on both sides, obverse rich russet with faint iridescence, reverse pale russet."
Smith Specimen. MS-64: Harlan P. Smith Sale (Chapman' brothers, 1906) Louis Eliasberg Collection. (Coin grade not verified.)
Boyd Specimen. MS-63. World's Greatest Collection, F.C.C. Boyd (Numismatic Gallery, 1945): Lot 2, Uncirculated.
Delp Specimen. MS-60. Winner F. Delp Collection, Stack's, November 17,1972, Lot 84 55th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 1990): Lot 1658. "Brilliant Uncirculated, fully prooflike. A needle-sharp impression, with bold denticles. Sharp hair and full radial' lines to the stars, the eagle's breast weak (more than likely to fill the bold relief of the head). A handsome coin with amber toning, starting to turn russet."
Chapman Specimen. MS-60 Lot 9 in an early, unidentified S.H. Chapman sale 'The Dr. Jack Adams Collection 1992-05 (Superior, 1992): Lot 2101. "MS-60. Flowing Hair. Original surfaces and delightful aura of toning. Wispy gray toning, Faint laminations extending horizontally across the planchet."
Newman Specimen. AU-55 Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society two lumps on the neck, below the ear. A short die scratch is noted on the reverse, from bottom of 0 to a point just below base of F. The presence (or lack of) these characteristics on other varieties sharing these dies may help to establish the specific emission sequence.
Bareford Specimen. AU-58 Harold Bareford Collection, (Stack's, 1981): Lot 403, "Uncirculated except for slightest rubbing on hair and eagle, some prooflike surface, sharply struck with deep iridescent toning." Steve Ivy's 1982 ANA Sale ANA Convention Sale (Heritage, 1988): Lot 939)'AU- 58/58, deeply lustrous, semi-prooflike with only slightest rubbing on high points, sharply defined surfaces display rich aqua and golden-gray iridescence."
DeCoppet Specimen. AU-50 Andre DeCoppet Collection (James F. Kelly, 1955). "Practically Uncirculated."
Hollinbeck-Kagin Specimen(s).AU-50 Hollinbeck -Kagin, June, 1970: Lot 595, "near-Uncirculated, light blue patina." Hollinbeck-Kagin, September, 1972: Lot 1226, "nearly Uncirculated, only slight friction on highest points, tiny depression on reverse as made during minting process, lovely bluish golden prooflike patina." Tercentenary Sale, Part II (Kagin's, 1974): Lot 1142, "virtually-Uncirculated, only slightest friction on highest points." These three may or may not be the same specimen.
Herdman Specimen. AU-50 Herdman Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 1977): Lot 5808. "About Uncirculated. Sharply struck on both surfaces, except for very center of eagle's breast."
Stirling Specimen. AU-50 Frank M. Stirling Collection, Heritage, February 1986:1324. "Pale gray toning."
Jack Lee Collection - Heritage 11/2005:2186, $391,000 - Madison Collection - Heritage 1/2008:2920, $431,250 - Joseph C. Thomas Collection - Heritage 4/2009:2533, $276,000
Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 4/1997:2171, $18,700
Stack's “Auction ‘84” 7/1984:1180, $39,600 - Stack's 1/2002:1497, $54,625 - Good River Collection - Superior 5/2006:1490, $112,700 - Stack’s 1/2009:583, $161,000
Dr. Hesselgesser Collection - Goldbergs 9/5/2011:5011, $63,250