B-19,BB-155. Nice strike and wonderful toning. PCGS AU 53 (CAC). CC coin. Most in VF-EF. Obverse used in BB-154 & BB-155 only. R5. Est.Pop.60-90 coins. Note-multiple die cracks on obverse (@ Star 1, 2, 3 and date) leading to termination of die. I feel this coin is an MS62
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: See description under 1799 BB-154. From same die as BB-154, but with die crack from border under bust, through bottom of last 9, center of 179, and first three stars on left: to border. Another crack from second star to hair. The obverse is invariably quite weak:
Obverse die used to strike 1799 BB-154 (early use) and BB-155 (later use).
REVERSE C: See description under 1799 (1799/8) BB-143. Perfect reverse die, and also with the same crack through D in UNITED as seen on B-2. Far right edge of A is over junction of clouds 3 and 4. Reverse stars always weakly impressed.
Reverse die used to strike 1799 BB-143 (late state) and BB-155 (early state).
Die State I: Perfect obverse die. Reverse without crack. May not exist, but it could theoretically exist, unless a later example of 1799 BB-154 is discovered with obverse cracks similar to those described under Die State II.
Die State II: Obverse with crack from left side of 1 in date, extending left through stars 1, 2, and 3. Reverse without crack. Scarce die state.
Die State III: Dies described by Bolender for B-19 [BB-155]. Obverse crack expands to the right, through date, to border below drapery, and left through stars 1-3 (as before), now to border. Another crack from border through star 3 into field. Reverse without crack. The usually seen die state.
Die State IV: Obverse now with crack from star 2 to hair. Reverse now has crack from rim to right side of D in UNITED. Rare die state. This may be similar to Gilhousen (Superior, 1973): 1263, a coin earlier in the Bolender and Dr. Charles Ruby collections, "With additional obverse cracks not mentioned by Bolender."
COLLECTING NOTES: 1799 BB-155 is one of the key rarities of the year. I believe that only 70 to 110 exist today. However, as of the early 1990s, there are more coins available than there are specialized collectors desiring to pay a significant premium for them; thus, specimens sell for little more than "type" prices. I see this as an advantage for anyone wishing to get involved in early dollars. Further, in recent decades, especially since the mid-1970s, many newcomers to the coin market have been conditioned to buy only Mint State coins, these being said to be of "investment quality." This leaves a vast range of VF, EF, etc., coins available to astute collectors of rare varieties, who do not have to be concerned with prices being pushed up by amateur competition from investors.
Most examples of the 1799 BB-155 dollar are in lower grades through EF. Only a few AU and Mint State coins exist.
In his 1881 Type-Table J.W. Haseltine designated this variety as very rare.
Casterline Specimen. MS-63. Superior Galleries, Fred Casterline Collection, 1989: 3194. "An exceptional strike of the obverse, with full stars and hair detail. The reverse is a bit weak. in the centers, most notably on the top of the shield and a few stars over the eagle's head but all detail is discernible. This specimen is graced by salmon rose toning in the protected areas near the devices. The fields and devices have a few minor handling marks, but these are only visible with the aid of a glass. The appearance of the coin is outstanding. Late die state with cracks extending horizontally from stars 2 and 3 and from star 3 down through date. A tiny crack from rim to Y of Liberty. The reverse has only the light crack from the rim to the D of UNITED."
New Netherlands 53rd Sale Specimen. MS-60. New Netherlands 53rd Sale Specimen, June 1959: 1210. "Lightly toned Une. Numerous adjustment marks and a few trivial scratches on both sides. Beautifully frosty; reverse irregularly toned to reddish-gold and steel-gray."
Davis Specimen. AU-58. Stack's, Davis-Graves (James Davis) Collection, 1954:1308. "A beautiful, rare specimen in top condition; slight rubbing on high points. Lustrous, and a shade from Unc. Choice."
Dupont Specimen. AU-50. Stack's, Anderson-Dupont Sale, 1954: 2258. Bowers and Merena Galleries, Norweb Collection, 1988: 3760. "AU-50. A splendid specimen with bright silver surfaces accented with delicate splashes of gold."
Halpern Specimen. AU-50. Stack's, Herman Halpern Collection Sale, 1987:1144. "AU. Cleaned, and has many hairline scratches on both sides. Obverse die breaks more advanced than Bolender describes another crack from 3rd star to hair, a crack from rim through Y, and one from base of Y to 8th star."
Heritage Specimen. AU-50. Heritage, ANA Convention Sale, 1988:954. "Lilac toned, with hints of golden highlights on the obverse. This variety plainly shows the die breaks and sinking behind Liberty's hair which eventually led to the untimely demise of this die. Free of adjustment marks and other circulation defects. The only indications of wear are on the highest points." Yolanda Gross Collection.
Spies Specimen. AU-50. Stack's, W. Earl Spies Collection, 1974:163. "Obverse of Bolender-18 with the crack through the date as described, as well as the other cracks. The reverse is Bolender-2 (the overdate reverse). AU, with considerable mint lustre and light toning."