1804 Capped Bust Right Eagle Plain 4, PCGS Coin of the Month

1804 Capped Bust Right Eagle Plain 4 obverse

The 1804 Capped Bust Right Eagle Plan 4, PCGS PR63 is the Professional Grading Service’s (PCGS) Coin of the Month.

The 1804 date has long held an allure with collectors who appreciate the mystique and legacy of the 1804 Draped Bust Dollar – the so-called “King of American Coins.” This piece, struck in the mid-1830s, was issued alongside a similarly dated 1804 Capped Bust Right Eagle. Included in a multi-piece proof set intended for presentation to foreign heads of state as a diplomatic gift, the 1804 Capped Bust Right Eagle is a numismatic treasure of ultra-rare status.

Coin Creation

1804 Capped Bust Right Eagle Plain 4 reverse

Many theories abound on how these gold coins were created, though the long-thought belief that new dies were used to make the 1804 Eagles has given way to the highly credible research of John Dannreuther who revealed in his United States Proof Coins, Volume IV: Gold that the obverse die was a partially dated and unused 1800-1804 die with only the first three digits of the date punched. The reverse die was actually an unused half-dollar die that was created around 1805 or 1806.

One of the distinctions of the 1804 Eagle included in the mid-1830s proof sets versus the eagles struck for commerce in 1804 is that while those produced in 1804 exhibit a crosslet on the numeral 4, whereas the rare later strikings are of the Plain 4 variety. What’s more, the later rarities discussed here have 200 reeds on their edge, while the original 1804 eagles range between 126 and 142 reeds.

A Storied Provenance

This specimen is one of just three such pieces ever accounted for, and this one has a provenance that reads like a “Who’s Who” of numismatics, with collectors such as Lorin G. Parmelee, William Woodin, and Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., once holding this coin in their cabinets before its stewardship in the collection of Harry W. Bass, Jr., who bought it in 1982.

For two decades the coin resided among many others from the Bass collection at the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, where it was on exhibit before millions. It was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service as Proof-63 and offered for sale by Heritage Auctions on September 29, 2022, where it traded for $2,280,000.

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