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."
Bolender 8, Haseltine 8
OBVERSE 8: Liberty with open mouth. First star is slightly farther from curl than last star is from bust, or about 2 mm. from curl. The 7th star is slightly closer to L than 8th star is to Y. There is a die chip between star 9 and the border. Star 10 is slightly repunched on its innermost ray. On the left, the stars are fairly evenly spaced. On the right, stars 10 and 11 are significantly closer than any of the others. Highest curl on top of head is centered more under right half of E in LIBERTY. The 1 in date is much farther from the curl, slightly over 1 mm. The letters in LIBERTY are usually seen with varying degrees of bifurcation, sometimes extensive, suggesting to Bolender that the letters were "fancy." This obverse closely resembles BB-160, to which compare.
Obverse die used to strike 1799 BB-165 only.
REVERSE M: Die flaws inside and to right top of final S in STATES. Far right edge of A is over junction of clouds 3 and 4. Point of star touches point of lower part of eagle's beak; ray points to left of left upright of U in PLURIBUS. Leaf points slightly right of center of I in AMERICA. AME join at lowest part. The N in UNITED was initially cut upside down and later corrected; an extraneous serif from the error can be seen to the lower right of the N, and appears as a line between the bottoms of N and I.
Reverse die used to strike 1799 BB-165 only.
Die State I: Obverse die without crack. Reverse with die flaws at second S of STATES, but no line cracks. About 20% or so of BB-165 dollars are of this die state.
Die State II: Bolender-8a. Obverse with die crack from border through two points of seventh star and LIB. Reverse with these cracks: Wing up through ST to above A. Crack from cloud 3 up through TES to OF. Crack from border down to second S joins other crack. Crack from CA, to stem, through tail feathers, through arrow feathers, to U. Reverse stars are weak in this and later state. (Intermediate states of these cracks occur.) Plentiful die state.
Die State III: Bolender-8b. Obverse as II, but now with crack heavier through LIBE and extending farther. With additional crack from border above T down through TY. Reverse with additional cracks: From F through wing tip to ribbon end. From bottom of M to branch. Scarcer die state.
COLLECTING NOTES: 1799 BB-165 is one of the more plentiful varieties among dollars of this date. About 600 to 1,000 are known today. Most are in worn grades, with the norm being Very Fine. A few Mint State coins exist.
Auction '79 Specimen. MS-63. Rarcoa, Auction '79, 1979:1032. Heritage, ANA Convention Sale, 1988:959. "MS (63/63). Choice Unc., very close to gem quality, with deep iridescent toning. The obverse is very sharply struck with nice hair detail and every star showing full radials, while the (center) reverse stars are a trifle weak. The edge denticles are also full and complete."
Guttag Specimen. MS-62. Guttag Collection. Bolender Collection Lester Merkin, AJ. Ostheimer, 3rd Collection, 1968: 279. "Frosty, iridescently toned gem Unc., weak in central obverse and above eagle's head, elsewhere needle-sharp." Paramount, Auction '80, 1980: 799. "Gem Unc.-55. Frosty, iridescently toned gem Unc., weak in central obverse and above eagle's head, elsewhere needle-sharp." Heritage, ANA Convention Sale, 1988: 958. "Mint State (62/62). Frosty, iridescently toned gem Unc., weak in the central obverse and above eagle's head, elsewhere needle-sharp. Obverse has a light vertical staple scratch." (The scratch may have occurred in the 1980s, as Paramount didn't mention it.)
Boyd Specimen. MS-60. Numismatic Gallery, World's Greatest Collection, F.C.C. Boyd, 1945:58. "A splendid Unc. example."
Fairfield Specimen. MS-60. Bowers and Ruddy, Fairfield Collection, 1977:1033. "Unc, with some claims to the Choice category. Toned a deep blue gray color, lighter at the centers. The coin appears to have a deep, full mint frost. Pristine, uncleaned."
New Netherlands Specimen. MS-60. New Netherlands 38th Sale, ANA Convention Sale, 1952:3153. "A very late stage of the die. Crack through LIB is heavier and extends further. Additional break from border above T down through TV. Top of E and R defective. The reverse die is now badly shattered with numerous breaks. Unc. A splendid, sharp impression with full mint lustre." W.G. Baldenhofer. AJ. Ostheimer, 3rd.
Schenkel Specimen. AU-58 (NGC). Bowers and Merena Galleries, Chris Schenkel Collection, 1990:353. "An exceptionally high-grade specimen."
Hollinbeck-Kagin Specimen. AU-55. Hollinbeck-Kagin Sale,June 1970:524. "Unc. golden, faint rubbing."
Four Landmark Collections Specimen. AU-50. Four Landmark Collections Sale, Bowers and Merena, 1989:1964. "AU-50. Lightly dipped at one time." Yolanda Gross Collection.
Specimen counterstamped "EB." A pride and joy to M.H. Bolender was a specimen of 1799 BB-155 in his collection, VG grade, said to have been counterstamped with the hallmark EB of New York silversmith and goldsmith Ephraim Brasher. Earlier, the coin was in the William Forrester Dunham sale (B. Max Mehl, 1941), from which event it went to F.C.C. Boyd. Notwithstanding the preceding, it is not certain that the EB mark is that of Brasher; Ezekiel Burr, a Providence, Rhode Island silversmith active in the 1790s, is another possibility. (Per letter from Dr. Robert Stark to the author, January 1, 1993.