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 7: Described by Haseltine as from same die as H-9 (BB-166), but it is from a different die. (This new die closely resembles both BB-165 and BB-166, but the first star of BB-160 is much farther from curl, slightly over 2.5 mm, only about 2 mm. in BB-166.) On the right, stars 11-12-13 are closer together than are the others.
Obverse die used to strike 1799 BB-160 only.
REVERSE I: No berries. U in UNITED defective at upper left part, which is cut off due to defective punch. Point of star touches point of lower part of eagle's beak; ray points to left serif at left side of U in PLURIBUS. Star under cloud 1 is noticeably smaller than any other. Far right edge of A is over junction of clouds 3 and 4. A in AMERICA rests on 4th feather. Leaf point is under left side of upright of l. Upper right star has only one point touching cloud 8 (whereas two points of the same star touch the cloud on the BB-157 reverse). No berries on branch (one tiny remnant of a stem can be seen), as the die was reground earlier (see description under 1799 BB-158).
Reverse first used to strike 1799 BB-158, during which time it had its first relapping (berries weak), next coining BB-159, then BB-158 again, then, second relapping (removing berries), BB-160 and, finally, BB-161.
Die State I: Obverse die without cracks. Reverse relapped as inherited from BB-158. Rare die state (with perfect obverse). Only one seen.
Die State II: Obverse with tiny hairline crack extending from the lower left of the 1 in date to the field below the bottom curl. A hint of a curved hairline crack extends from the border below drapery. Reverse as preceding. Rare die state.
Die State III: Bolender-12a. Obverse cracks intensify. Crack from foot of 1 in date extends right, below 7, to border. A crack extends from the border up into the first 9, while a crosswise crack at the bottom of the first 9 goes left through the upright of 7, and right to the second 9. Curved crack from border to right now touches drapery. Crack from border between drapery and star 13 goes upward and curves to the right into field. Crack from star 12 extends to border at star 13. Reverse as preceding. A plentiful die state.
Die State IV: Bolender-12b. Obverse die cracks intensify further. Crack in right field now extends through star 9 to border. Crack from star 13 downward to border. Crack connects stars 3 to 7 with L in LIBERTY. Crack extending left from 1 in date to below lowest curl now extends farther upward, and opposite the innermost point of star 2 crosses a crack going from star 2 to the hair; original crack continues upward to end of lowest hair ribbon. Crack from border to star 1, then, somewhat split, continuing to star 2, through star 2, touching innermost ray end of star 3, to field opposite star 4. Reverse as preceding. Scarce die state. The 1975 ANA Convention Sale coin, ex Ostheimer and Bolender collections, may have been this die state, and was described as Gem Uncirculated.
COLLECTING NOTES: 1799 BB-160 is one of the more plentiful issues of the year, although it does not compare with the ready availability of the almost omnipresent BB-166 and BB-163. I suggest that about 650 to 1,150 of the 1799 BB-160 variety exist. Most are of Die States III and IV.
The reverse has no berries and is one of two 1799 varieties (the other is BB-161) lacking them. Accordingly, BB-160 has attracted the attention of a number of collectors who do not otherwise seek to acquire die varieties, thus accounting for added popularity of the issue. In his 1881 Type-Table, J.W. Haseltine called this variety very scarce. Obviously, it is very scarce no longer.
Newcomer Specimen. MS-65+. Waldo C. Newcomer Collection. CoL E.H.R. Green Collection. T.James Clarke, via James G. Macallister. New Netherlands 48th Sale, 1956:534. "Bolender-12b. Shattered obverse die as described. Brilliant Unc., almost in the gem class. Comparatively well struck and centered; full mint bloom. Microscopic evidence of contact with other coins upon the obverse only." Superior Galleries, Jascha Heifetz Collection, 1989:3817. "MS-67. Rich frostiness, cameo look. Resplendent gold, lavender, and blue toning."
Bolender Specimen. MS-63. M.H. Bolender Collection. AJ. Ostheimer, 3rd Collection. Superior Galleries, ANA Convention Sale, 1975:942. "Shattered obverse. MS-50 to 65, fully lustrous, partly brilliant, but mostly with an even grayish tone. Struck partially off center on the obverse and irregularly about the rims. A bold impression with fantastic surfaces.". Pine Tree, Brown Library Collection, 1976:314. "Shattered obverse die. Splendid, frosty, brilliant, glittering gem Unc., unusually sharp strike. Delicate iridescent tone in the cooler range of spectrum, broad planchet. Well centered, obverse less so."
Four Landmark Collections Specimen. MS-63. Bowers and Merena Galleries, Four Landmark Collections Sale, 1989:1969. "Bright and lustrous on the obverse, attractively toned reverse (olive, blue, and silver gray shades). Obverse die shows numerous spidery breaks through the date numerals, rising up into the left field and on the right to touch the tip of Liberty's breast."
Orlando Specimen. MS-63 (NGC). Superior Galleries, Orlando Sale, August 1992:174. "Frosty lustre. Wonderfully sharp strike."
Club Cal Neva Specimen. MS-60+. Superior Galleries, Club Cal Neva Sale, 1987. Superior Galleries, A. Bernard Shore Collection, 1988:2209. "Shattered obverse die with the breaks mentioned by Bolender; unlisted obverse edge crack above stars two and three. MS-60+. Obverse is untoned and satiny; the reverse displays exquisite greenish gold and reddish pastel splashes with full blazing lustre below. Raised patches of die rust and heavy network of cracks."
Newcomer Specimen (another). MS-60. Newcomer Collection. Col. E.H.R. Green Collection. T.James Clarke, via James G. Macallister. New Netherlands 48th Sale, 1956: 633. "Bolender-12a. Unc. glossy prooflike look, rainbow toning. Ever so slight obverse friction on Liberty's shoulder, reverse rubbing at tops of eagle's wings only. Highly attractive, in spite of a few adjustment marks and nicks from mint."
DeCoppet Specimen. MS-60. James Kelly, Andre DeCoppet Collection, 1955. "Unc. with some mint lustre."
DiBello Specimen. MS-60. Stack's, Gaston DiBello Collection, 1970:189. "Brilliant Unc. Full mint bloom. A boldly struck example, sharp denticles, hair, feathers, etc., Bolender- 12b, showing die breaks below 1 and 7 of date and additional die breaks across hair and bust. Another die break from the 9th star across field to tip of bust. The die must have shattered shortly after this coin was struck.". Stack's, Scanlon Collection, 1973: 1720. "Brilliant Unc, Full mint bloom. A boldly struck example, sharp denticles, hair, feathers, etc. Bolender-12b, showing die breaks below 1 and 7 of date and additional die breaks across hair and bust. Another die break from the 9th star across field to tip of bust.". Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, Krugjohann Collection, 1976: 618, Bolender-12b. "Choice Unc, with jewel-like medium gray toning and hues of blue and gold. Full mint lustre. The strike is also strong…Advanced die breaks on the obverse."
Hollinbeck-Kagin, August 1970:1087, Bolender-12b. "Unc, golden, late date state with interesting die breaks. R-4."
Heritage Specimen. MS-60. Heritage, ANA Convention Sale, 1988:957. "Lustrous, sharply detailed surfaces subdued by hazy golden-steel patina. Free from adjustment marks and only a few of the reverse stars-show noticeable softness. Minor rim bruise on the reverse at 6:00 barely disturbs the denticles."
October Sale Specimen. MS-60. Superior Galleries, October Sale, 1991:2624. "MS-60. Nice strike. Satiny mint lustre underneath steel gray and gold toning; with - only the slightest trace of dullness on the high points. Surfaces are dean and impressive. Extensive die cracking is visible on the obverse (Bolender-12b being a late die state)."
Sign up for our FREE Newsletter!