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 3: Knob 9. 13 stars, as are all the following. Squared-off bottom to 7 (seen only on BB-81 through BB-96; used with the Knob 9). Highest wave of hair incomplete at left (see note below). Upper left star near L, but upper right star is over 1.5 mm. distant from Y. Bottom two rays on star 4 are undersized. Stars 4 and 5 more widely separated than any other stars on the left; stars 8 and 9 most widely separated and stars 9 and 10 closest of any stars on the right. Digits 7 and 9 closest in date. The 1 in date is near curl but does not touch it. Curl open for a small distance at its top. Two die "dots" appear under E in LIBERTY, and two more on bust just above drapery, showing on all Fine or better specimens. Base of R above bases of adjacent E and T. Earliest die state.
Obverse die used to strike 1798 BB-92 (earliest state; more detail t6 highest wave of hair than on BB-93 or BB-94), BB-93, and BB-94 (top left of 1 in date is "lumpy"; possibly the latest state). Striking order probably BB-92, BB-93, BB-94.
REVERSE C: See description under 1798 BB-91. Large Letters; 5 lines in each vertical shield element.
Reverse die used to strike 1798 BB-91 (earlier use) and BB-92 (later use).
Die State I: Normal dies as described above. Presumably, there are intermediate die states between this and II described below.
Die State II: A late reverse die state has a crack at the rim through the right top of the second T in STATES down through its stand, the clouds, the stars and the right (observer's left) wing to the N in UNITED and the rim below.
COLLECTING NOTES: 1798 BB-92 is some-what elusive. I estimate that about 200 to 350 are known, only a few of which have appeared in auctions over the years. Most specimens are in VF and EF grades. Some examples are lightly struck at the centers, while others are sharply defined.
1983 ANA Convention Sale Specimen. EF-45. Kagin's ANA Convention Sale, 1983: 2664. "Sharply struck with full hair, wing and tail feather details. Pleasing deep gray and olive toning. Tiny rim nick on reverse but surfaces are exceptionally clean."
Chalkley Specimen. EF-45. Superior, Chalkley Collection, 1990: 2847. "Boldly struck with superb centering and color. The fields boast the lovely gray with blue color that is found on original, uncleaned specimens. Only the highest curls of Liberty and the eagle's feathers show traces of circulation."
Emery-Nichols Specimen. EF-45. Bowers and Merena, Emery-Nichols Collection, 1984: 928. "Sharply struck. Pleasing surfaces. Mottled iridescence glimmers vividly over lustrous surfaces."
GNA Convention Sale Specimen. EF-45. Mid American, Georgia Numismatic Association Convention, 1989: 1414. "Bright silver toning, with additional reds and steel blue colors scattered over the surfaces."
Spies Specimen. EF-45. Stack's, W. Earl Spies Collection, 1974: 43. EF to AD. 1981 ANA Convention Sale Specimen. EF-40. Bowers and Ruddy, 1981 ANA Convention Sale: 2016. Rim nick above last letter of LIBERTY. Medium gray surfaces.
Lighthouse Specimen. EF-40. J.C. Lighthouse Collection. Bolender Collection, 1952: 41. "Reverse shows adjustment marks done at Mint." W.G. Baldenhofer Collection to Stack's Farish-Baldenhofer Sale. ' AJ. Ostheimer, 3rd Collection ANA Convention Sale, Superior, 1975: 851. "EF-40, beautiful iridescent bluish and sunset hues on the obverse, lustrous golden gray reverse. A bold strike, though not perfectly centered on the obverse. Faint reverse adjustment marks, as well as identifiable dent at D where the letter was hit with a blunt object."
GENA Convention Sale Specimen. EF-40. Kagin's GENA Convention Sale, 1979: 371. Steel-blue patina.
Hollinbeck-Kagin Specimen. EF-40. June 1970 Hollinbeck-Kagin Sale: 607. "EF and sharp with lovely patina, tiny nick."New Netherlands 57th Sale Specimen. EF-40. December 1963: 1056. EF, usual center weakness.
Sears Specimen. EF-40 Elmer Sears. Sold to the following in 1909. Albert Fairchild Holden Collection. Bowers and Merena, Norweb Collection, 1988: 3755. "Mottled light gray toning. Some darker streaks of toning are seen on the obverse and reverse and may have been the result of a rubber band coming into contact with the surface at one time. At the center of the obverse some Mint-caused adjustment marks can be seen. The piece is well centered and exceptionally well struck."
Ostheimer Specimen, EF-40. Lester Merkin, Ostheimer Collection, 1968: 247. EF, centers stronger than usual though still somewhat indefinite.
New Netherlands Specimen. EF-40. New Netherlands 57th Sale, 1963: 1056; EF-40, weak at the centers. Superior, Dr. Charles Ruby Collection Part I, 1974: 1462. Strictly Extra Fine, very bold, lustrous, lightly toned.
Beymer-Gross Specimen. EF-40. Jack Beymer, May 1985. Sold to the following. Yolanda Gross Collection.
The BB-92 1798 Silver Dollar is one of only four varieties of this year that have five vertical lines in the reverse shield. This variety is considered a Rarity 4 to Rarity 5 (Scarce to Rare). Only one Mint State example is known; the remainder of the PCGS Condition Census examples range from Very Fine to About Uncirculated.
Heritage 1/2006:3224, $126,500 - Wayne Miller Collection
Dr. Hesselgesser Collection - Goldbergs 9/5/2011:5034, $8,912.50