Type 1, Small Eagle

Obverse of 1795 Draped Bust Dollar
Reverse of 1795 Draped Bust Dollar

Q. David Bowers (edited and updated by Mike Sherman): The 1795 Draped Bust dollar represents the initial appearance of this design in American coinage. In the silver dollar series the obverse motif was continued through pieces dated 1804 (business strikes were last made in 1803, however), while the reverse motif was employed only through early 1798. The obverse features a portrait of Liberty as just described, with LIBERTY above, the date below and eight stars to the left and seven to the right. Varieties also exist which show 16 stars, as well as 13. The reverse shows a “small” eagle perched on a cloud within an open wreath. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds.

Among early silver dollars, the Draped Bust obverse combined with the Small Eagle reverse may be the scarcest type. Among the four dates, 1795-1798, while 1797 is the lowest mintage, prices for all four are roughly the same. Specimens exist in all grades, with those most frequently encountered apt to be in Very Good to Very Fine preservation. Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated pieces are obviously scarcer, and an Uncirculated specimen is a prime rarity. Examples often show parallel mint-caused adjustment marks. As these coins were produced strictly for utilitarian purposes, no attention was paid to striking them carefully.

-- Reprinted with permission from "United States Coins by Design Types - An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor" by Q. David Bowers