The Draped Bust Dollar was one of the earliest Silver Dollar Coins ever minted. US Silver Dollars were created by the US Mint with the intention of competing with the Spanish Milled Dollars and Spanish Eight Reales in the international market. And so, the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, was passed.
The first US Silver Dollars were struck in 1794 and were known as the Flowing Hair Dollar, thanks to the design made by Robert Scot, the US Mint Chief Engraver at that time. It featured a youthful Miss Liberty with her hair flowing freely on the obverse and an Eagle perched on a rock on the other side of the coin. However, the series was minted for a total of two years only, making it a very short collection.
The Draped Bust Dollar was created to replace the Flowing Hair Dollar. The Liberty Dollar was a very short series – it only had two years of reign before the design was replaced. Coincidentally, the change in the design coincided with the fact that the US Mint changed leadership during the same time the Draped Bust Dollar was born.
At the end of June 1795, the first US Mint Director, David Rittenhouse, stepped down from his position and was succeeded by Henry William DeSaussure. DeSaussure made sure to improve all of the designs on the US Coinage, particularly the Silver Dollar Coins, which included the Flowing Hair Dollar.
There were two Draped Bust Dollars created – the Small Eagle minted in 1795-1798 and the Heraldic Eagle minted in 1798-1804. It was said that then-President at that time, President George Washington influenced DeSaussure to ask the help of Gilbert Stuart, one of the foremost portraitists to redesign the Flowing Hair Dollar.
There were rumors that Stuart based the new portrait of Miss Liberty on a sketch of Ann Willing Bingham, a socialite from Philadelphia who was 21-years-old at that time. The portrait was used on a plaster thanks to John Eckstein of Rhode Island while Robert Scot, US Mint Chief Engraver, created the dies. The design of the obverse stayed basically the same, with the portrait of Miss Liberty improved and the reverse the same as the Flowing Hair Dollar, with just a minor modification. The Eagle now stands on a cloud instead of a rock, and it seemed to be more graceful than the first design. This came to be as the Draped Bust Dollar, Small Eagle.
During the spring of 1795, a brand new coin press that was a better version was made available. It was delivered to the US Mint at Philadelphia which really helped improve the quality of coins produced and increased the amount coined at that time. The improved coin press was able to stamp designs properly and create larger sized coins.
The Small Eagle of the Draped Bust Dollar was minted first in 1795 up until 1798. During the first year of mintage, only 42,738 pieces were produced in the last two weeks of October 1795. Production lasted for only 4 years, and only a total of 450,000 Draped Bust Small Eagles were minted.
The Draped Bust Small Eagle
The Small Eagle may only have lasted a couple of years, but many major varieties were produced – some of which can be distinguished by the number of stars found on the obverse and their arrangements. No proofs were struck, although there are some who has the proof-like surface.
By 1798, the reverse of the Draped Bust Dollar which used to feature a young Eagle was replaced with one that looks more natural, older and heraldic. The Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle came to life in 1798 up until 1804. All Heraldic Eagles were minted at the US Mint in Philadelphia – producing a total of 1,153,709 pieces during the six years of production.
The Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle
The Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle has many varieties, most of which are die varieties, some of which are minimal changes in the placement of However, there was also an important change in designs – such as the cross pattern on the Great Seal of the United States and the different patterns of stars on the reverse. Proofs were minted from 1801-1804.
The Draped Bust Dollars are made up to 90% Silver and 10% Copper, weighs about 27grams, is 40mm in diameter and has lettered edge (HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT)
The Two Types of the Draped Bust Dollar
Type 1 Draped Bust Small Eagle (1795-1798)
The first issued Draped Bust is the Small Eagle. The obverse features a profile bust of Miss Liberty with her hair flowing, while she’s facing right. A total of 15 stars are seen on Miss Liberty’s side – 8 on the left and 7 on the right. The legend LIBERTY is located on top of her portrait while the date is seen below.
For the reverse, a naturalistic Eagle is seen perched on a cloud and was being surrounded by a wreath tied by a ribbon. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the wreath and Eagle.
Minted for a total of 4 years, the Draped Bust Small Eagle is considered the scarcest among all early Silver Dollars.
Regular Strikes of Type 1 Draped Bust Small Eagle
1795 Draped Bust Small Eagle –42,738 pieces were minted, with the following varieties
1795 Centered Draped Bust Small Eagle
1795 Off-Center Draped Bust Small Eagle
1796 Draped Bust Small Eagle – 79,920 pieces were minted with the following varieties
1796 Small Date, Small Letters Draped Bust Small Eagle
1796 Small Date, Large Letters Draped Bust Small Eagle
1796 Large Date, Small Letters Draped Bust Small Eagle
1797 Draped Bust Small Eagle – 7,776 pieces were minted with the following varieties
1797 9X7 Large Letters Draped Bust Small Eagle
1797 10X6 Stars Draped Bust Small Eagle
1797 9X7 Small Letters Draped Bust Small Eagle
1798 Draped Bust Small Eagle – has the following varieties
1798 Small Eagle 13 Stars Draped Bust Small Eagle – 30,000 pieces were minted
1798 Small Eagle 15 Stars Draped Bust Small Eagle – 10,000 pieces were minted
Special Strikes of Type 2 Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle according to PCGS CoinFacts
1795 Off-Center Bust Draped Bust Small Eagle – a total of 42,738 pieces were minted
Type 2 Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle (1798-1804)
The second type of the Draped Bust Dollar is known as the Large Eagle or Heraldic Eagle. The obverse is basically the same as the Small Eagle, while the reverse was updated with the Eagle viewed on the front with its claws and wings spread. A bundle of arrows and an olive branch are grasped by each talon of the Eagle, while the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM is seen on the ribbon the Eagle has on its beak. The Great Seal of the United States was placed on the Eagle’s chest. 13 stars are strategically placed just above the Eagle’s head, and an arc of clouds above the stars. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the Eagle in a form of an arc.
Regular Strikes of Type 2 Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle
1798 Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle – 287,536 pieces were minted with the following varieties
1804 Original – Class I Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle Proof – 8 pieces were minted
1804 Restrike – Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle Proof – 15 pieces were known to exist with the following varieties
1804 Restrike – Class II Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle Proof
1804 Restrike – Class III Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle Proof
Collecting Draped Bust Dollars
Less than 1.5 Million pieces of Draped Bust Dollars were minted during its 9 years of production. Specimens for the Draped Bust Small Eagles are readily available in all grades, but, uncirculated ones are a rarity. The 1797 Draped Bust Small Eagle is one that has the lowest number of mintage issues.
For the Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle, it was said that those with the 1804 dates were actually produced in 1834 and its subsequent years. Restrict issues were dated in 1804. Most Silver Coins found nowadays have planchets cause by Mints, as well as adjustment marks.
Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle coins can be usually seen in grades that range from Very Good to Very Fine, while those in Extremely Fine and AU grades being usually scarce. Like Small Eagles, uncirculated Heraldic Eagles are rare.
PCGS-graded Drape Bust Small Eagle coins come in prices that usually range from $700.00 to $800,000.00. As for Heraldic Eagles, prices range from $650.00 up to $700,000.00 for regular strikes and $275,000 to $8,500,000.00 for Proofs. The rarest of all Draped Bust Dollars being the 1804 issues, which were created as a form of diplomatic gifts.