Series notes: $10 Early Gold (1795-1804)

Early $10 gold eagles encompass the Capped Bust to Right series which ran from 1795 through 1804 and include two reverses: the small eagle, seen on coins minted from 1795 through 1797, and the heraldic eagle motif on eagles from 1797 through 1804. Both designs are by Robert Scot and similar to the $2.50 quarter eagle and $5 half eagle that were also produced at the time. Weighing 17.50 grams and measuring 33 millimeters in diameter, these early $10 eagles are significantly larger in size and heavier in weight than the $10 eagles struck later in the 19th century and afterward.

All early $10 eagles are extremely rare. Mintages were always under 50,000, though about half of the issues saw fewer than 10,000 pieces made. The rarest business-strike issues by mintage are the 1798 8 Over 7, 9 Stars Left, 4 Right and 1798 8 Over 7, 7 Stars Left, 6 Right. Mintages are only 900 and 842, respectively, and only a handful of examples each survive.

Many of these early $10 eagles exhibit file scratches originating from the practice of Mint employees individually hand-filing planchets to ensure each weighed the correct amount. These and other planchet and strike issues should be understood before buying any early $10 gold eagles. Also, it should be noted the 1804 $10 eagle was made as both a business-strike and proof restrike. The business-strikes are about as scarce as the scarcer business strikes from earlier in the series, whereas the 1804 proof restrikes were produced decades later for inclusion in special proof sets that were delivered to foreign heads of state. Just 4 examples of the 1804 proof $10 eagles are known, and each sells for approximately $3 million to $4 million.

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