US Coins

'12 Arrows' reverse Draped Bust dollar sells at Goldberg auction

A handsome Fine 15 1800 Draped Bust dollar sold for $1,704 at Ira & Larry Goldberg’s pre-Long Beach auction.

All images courtesy Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers

Early silver dollars can be intimidating for a new collector for a variety of reasons. First, they’re generally expensive. An entry level Draped Bust dollar with a severe impairment, such as a hole, sets a baseline at around $500. Second, they often have problems like cleaning or tooling, and these are often deceptive.

But for the patient, Flowing Hair and Draped Bust silver dollars represent an impressive challenge with a limited range of years, an impressive number of varieties, and solid reference books to help guide collectors. 

Here is one of three early dollars that sold at the recent Ira & Larry Goldberg pre-Long Beach Auction, Aug. 31 to Sept. 1:
The coin: Fine 15 1800 Draped Bust dollar

The price: $1,704

The story: The Draped Bust dollar with the Heraldic Eagle reverse is perhaps best known via the extraordinarily rare 1804 dollar. The Heraldic Eagle reverse type was first struck in 1798 and examples in the Fine grade represent a good compromise of detail and eye appeal, and value. 

The present example, cataloged as BB-193, is one of many varieties of this year and is generally called the “12 Arrows” reverse, as the eagle grips 12 arrows in his talons on the reverse, one fewer than the 13 arrows that are usually seen. 

Professional Coin Grading Service graded the dollar Fine 15, and the auction firm noted that it had some light toning around the obverse border and was “a pleasing example for the grade.” 

Another lot in the sale provides a succinct description of how these early dollars were struck, the catalog stating: “In striking Silver Dollars, prior to 1836 the Mint used only screw presses, in which weighted arms were swung by strongly muscled men. The screw was driven downwards with great force, and the planchet was transformed into a coin by being squeezed between the obverse and reverse dies.”

Read the rest of Steve Roach's Sept. 22 Market Analysis:

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