1795 Draped Bust Dollar BB-52, Centered Bust, Single Finest PCGS Coin

Our D. Brent Pogue Collection Part IV Sale, to be held Tuesday, May 24, at Sotheby’s New York Headquarters, contains more "Wow!" coins than any other auction in the history of numismatics—if you define it as a combination of great rarities in superb condition.

And, the memorable 1795 Draped Bust dollar is one of them.

It and the related BB-51 represent the first use of the Draped Bust motif created by famous artist Gilbert Stuart. It is said that a Philadelphia society lady was the model, but despites some theories, her identity remains elusive.

This is a "Wow!" coin by multiple standards.

First, it seems that this gorgeous gem is either the finest known or tied for that honor (see provenance below). Per the PCGS Population Report the Pogue specimen is one of a kind. In any Mint State level BB-52 is much rarer than its companion issue, the BB-51.

You can get any better than finest!

Second, it has superb eye appeal—which can be just as important as numerical grade, if not more so. Strong cartwheel luster on both sides accentuates the superb appeal. Rich olive and gray are seen on the portrait, while the fields show deep gray, violet, rose and gold that intensifies toward the rim. The reverse exhibits similar surfaces but in a more mottled arrangement. The breast feathers are well executed and defined, as are the curls and lines of Liberty’s hair on the obverse. The type is notorious for softness in these areas, but this piece is exceptional.  

Third, as the first year of the Draped Bust design it is an ideal candidate for a type set.

Notes: BB-51 and 52 can be considered as a pair. When the Bowers-Borckardt listings were created, 1795 BB-51 was placed as the first made, for it has the obverse portrait off center to the left. All other Draped Bust portraits from 1795 through 1803 have the portrait centered. It could have been that this die, putatively the first, was viewed as in need of improvement; thus, later dies had the bust placed in a more central position. More importantly, many prooflike Mint State examples of 1795 BB-51 exist, while only a few Mint State coins, not prooflike, are known for BB-52. It seems logical that specimens of BB-51, representing the first use of the design in American coinage, were made for presentation.

In circulated grades BB-52 is slightly rarer than BB-51. Both varieties are easy enough to obtain at levels from Fine to Extremely Fine. About Uncirculated pieces are rarer.

The Draped Bust obverse was inaugurated with the silver dollar in autumn 1795, as noted. It was almost launched with the 1795 half dime as well, as a die was made. Apparently, it was not hardened, and in 1796 a 6 was punched over the 5 to create an overdate. We sold the Pogue example, a gem, in an earlier sale.

This motif was later used on other denominations, including half cents from to 1800 to 1808; copper cents 1796 to 1807, half dimes 1796/5 to 1803, dimes 1796 to 1807, quarters 1796 to 1807, and half dollars 1796 to 1807. Dollars of this design were continued until 1803, plus a new 1804-dated obverse made in 1834.

In the copper denominations the Draped Bust obverse was succeeded by John Reich’s Classic Head motif, and in the silver series from half dimes to half dollars, by Reich’s Capped Bust. After the Draped Bust pieces the next new dollar design was Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated figure of 1836.

Provenance: L.A. United States Type Collection; Stack’s 55th Anniversary Sale, Part II, October 1990, lot 1659; Andy Lustig; Superior Galleries’ sale of May 1991, lot 700; Foxfire Collection (Claude E. Davis, M.D.); acquired with the Foxfire Collection, by sale, en bloc, October 2004.


Pogue Collection Publications

Limited-edition catalogs for the May 24, 2016, D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part IV are in print and are available for purchase while supplies last. Limit: one per person. To order, call 800-458-4646.

Also available are two deluxe hardbound books about the Pogue Collection.

Treasures from the D. Brent Pogue Rare Coin Cabinet, by Q. David Bowers. 208 pages, color illustrated, quality hardbound. This tells the stories of 100 special coins from the collection. $39.95 plus shipping. Personally autographed by Dave on request.

The 1822 Gold Half Eagle: Story of a Rarity, by Q. David Bowers.  128 pages, color illustrated, quality hardbound. $39.95 plus shipping. This also contains a wealth of information about other coins, people, places, and things—a "you are there" experience. Personally autographed by Dave on request.

For more information or to order visit

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