The 1798 Capped Bust Eagle was struck in two varieties, each with an extremely limited mintage. All of the coins for this year are also overdates, which used with dies from the previous year with an “8″ punched over the final digit “7″.
The first variety displays 9 stars to the left of Liberty and 4 stars to the right. This (9×4) variety has an estimated mintage of 900 pieces, with about 200 survivors.
The second variety displays 7 stars to the left and 6 stars to the right. Also the word “Liberty” appears directly above Liberty’s cap without any space. The 9×4 variety, and in fact all other Capped Bust Eagles, have a space where the top of the cap interrupts the arc of stars and inscriptions. The (7×6) variety has an estimated mintage of 842, with about 20 to 30 pieces believed to still exist. Two mint state examples are in the Smithsonian, one of which is pictured above.
The 1795 “9 Leaves” Capped Bust Eagle is a very popular variety within the first year of issue for the $10 denomination. The variety is quickly identified by the number of leaves on the palm branch appearing on the reverse of the coin. More commonly, the branch is found with 13 leaves.
The variety was once called the “rarest of all eagles” with fewer than a dozen pieces believed to exist, however more examples have been discovered in recent times to correct that statement.
It is now estimated, per Bass-Dannreuther, that the original mintage was between 210 and 500 coins, with perhaps 20 still in existence in all grades. The reason for its creation is unknown, but the reverse die was only used for this variety, indicating that it most likely failed during its use.
A few uncirculated examples exist, but the majority of surviving specimens are circulated and heavily marked. An example graded PCGS AU-58 sold for $184,000 in 2005.