The 1804 Proof Capped Bust Eagle is a famous rarity which shares a similar story to the 1804 Silver Dollar. Both are historically important proof restrikes created three decades after the denominations were last produced for circulation. The gold denomination is considerably scarcer with only four known specimens.
The United States Mint had struck 1804 Capped Bust Eagle (Buy on eBay) for circulation with a mintage of 3,757 pieces before production was halted by President Thomas Jefferson. At the time, a rise in the price of gold had made the coins worth more in metal content than their face value, leading to widespread melting. The regular production of the gold eagle denomination would not resume until 1838 when the precious metal content was reduced.
In 1834, a request was sent to the Director of the Mint to produce duplicate specimens of each United States coin currently in use for presentation to the King of Siam and the Sultan of Muscat. The request was interpreted to mean each denomination currently authorized, including the silver dollar and gold eagle which had not been struck for three decades.
In the case of the gold eagle, new dies were creating carrying the 1804 date representing the last time the coins had been produced. The new dies differed slightly from the originals due to improved technology, but also by the last digit of the date, which shows a “crosslet 4” rather than a “plain 4.” The coins were also struck with a brilliant proof finish.
The 1804 Proof Capped Bust Eagle has only four pieces currently known to exist. One of the pieces is contained within the complete 1804/1834 presentation set given to the King of Siam. Another is within the Bass Collection, which is on long-term loan to the ANA museum. The remaining two pieces have periodically changed ownership in private transactions at escalating prices reaching $8.5 million.
- Designer: Robert Scot
- Composition: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Silver and Copper
- Weight: 17.50 grams
- Diameter: 33 mm
- Edge: Reeded