Numismatists at Independent Coin Graders in Tampa, Fla., have
identified a previously unknown obverse die for 1803 Draped Bust,
Large 3 silver dollars.
It is believed to be the first new early dollar variety attributed
in more than two decades.
The coin, from an old collection, was presented by its owner to ICG
senior grader/numismatist Randy Campbell for examination during the
Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 Whitman Baltimore Expo.
The coin is reported to have original surfaces and be in Very Fine condition.
During the show, Campbell was unable to match the 1803 dollar to any
known die combination in the Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of
the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, Volume One, by Q.
David Bowers, with Mark Borckardt.
Coins cataloged in the reference are attributed by Bowers-Borckardt
or BB numbers.
Numismatist F. Michael “Skip” Fazzari, Campbell’s colleague at ICG,
further studied the coin back at ICG’s offices and confirmed that the
obverse die was unlisted.
Fazzari was able to determine that the new obverse was paired with
Reverse Die B used to strike other coins in the series.
According to Fazzari, the reverse of the 1803 dollar submitted at
the Baltimore show for attribution appears to be identical to the
terminal die state reverse used on BB-255.
Fazzari contacted Borckardt, senior numismatist at Heritage Auctions, for
further confirmation of the discovery piece.
The new die marriage has been assigned the attribution number BB-257.
Borckardt says that this is the first early silver dollar variety
discovered since a pair of new 1795 varieties were identified in the
Discovery of the new die marriage brings the total number of early
dollar varieties to 119, not counting the later Proof only or 1804 emissions.
According to Fazzari, the obverse die is different from that used on
any other 1803 dollar.
“The fact that this obverse has not been seen before may indicate
the rarity of this die marriage,” Fazzari said.
Fazzari identified three differences from the die used for the other
1803 Draped Bust, Large 3 dollar (BB-255): the T in LIBERTY is
repunched at its base on the new die; the first star is close to the
bust rather than distant as on the other Large 3 obverse; and the 1 in
the date is not close to the hair curl on the new die while on the
other die, the 1 is closer to Liberty’s hair curl.
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