Astonishing mint frost radiates from the beautiful yellow-gold surfaces of this amazing Gem example, from the first year of John Reich's Capped Bust design, with his signature final star with the familiar notch in one of the star arms. The motifs are struck with exacting, nearly full completeness on both sides, including the finer details of Liberty's hair curls and the eagle's leg feathers, talons, and arrow fletchings. Only the dentils show a few select areas of striking softness. A remarkable specimen that rates near the top of the NGC Census as one of the top five coins of this date that they have ever seen.
This is a later die state of this die pairing, with thin evidence of die clashing on the obverse from the shield around Liberty's ear, the wing of the eagle on her neck and into the left field, and the scroll above the date faintly outlined. Two other features are noted, the first is the U of UNITED is slightly repunched low, seen on the upper left serif, and there is a shallow die line above the first A of AMERICA. It is a remarkable fact that this die pairing produced an incredible number of coins for this year, furthermore, the reverse die went on to strike even more coins in 1808 as well. Rarely did early dies hold up as well as these, most suffering from various cracks and clashing episodes that soon ended their service for striking coins. While available in circulated or technically lower mint state grades, at the Gem level even these prolific dies were unable to produce more than a handful of surviving coins today than can claim this level of preservation.
The Philadelphia Mint hired a new and talented engraver in 1807 by the name of John Reich. Reich's initial task was to redesign our coinage. The two primary denominations in circulation in 1807 (for banking and reserves) were the half eagle and half dollar, and these designs were the first he addressed. In both of these denominations Liberty is adorned with a cap upon her head, rather than on a pole as seen on some of our early copper coinage, and a new style of cap than seen on our early gold coinage. Reich's designs were well received and soon were employed on other denominations as he was able to engrave several master hubs to create dies in the appropriate sizes for the other denominations. The still primitive coining equipment of that era caused difficulty in fully striking Reich's designs, and attempts to mitigate this ongoing problem are seen in the various reverse rotations on most denominations. The striking problems continued well into the 1830s on the larger diameter coins (cent, half dollar, dollar, half eagle, eagle) until the steam press was finally obtained and put into service for these larger diameter coins starting in 1836.
NGC Census: 3; 2 finer (Mint State-66 finest) for the year and all designations.