$10 Gold Menu
Capped Bust Eagle 1795 - 1804
Type 1 and Type 2
Designer: Robert Scot
Content: 91.7% gold 8.3% other
Diameter: 33 millimeters
Weight: 17.5 grams
Mint Mark Location: None (All were struck in Philadelphia)
Type 1 Small Eagle
While the eagle was supposed to be the nation's primary gold coin, for international
trade, most bankers and traders preferred the half eagle. Their argument was that
the eagle was too small for large trades and too large for small trades, besides,
the half eagle matched other (foreign) gold coins more closely. The eagle was also
unpopular at home (each eagle represented about one weeks wages for one worker).
A right-facing Liberty wearing a soft cap is featured on the obverse. Liberty has
long flowing hair down her back and curling from under her cap. The hair that is
wrapped from the back around the cap may account for the "Turban Head" name often
given to the coin.
Type 2 Heraldic Eagle
The Mint, responding to criticisms of the "scrawny" eagle on the first
eagles, changed the design to a heraldic eagle. Some believed the change
was a response to a preference for symbols reminiscent of a European tradition.
If so, the eagle and shield motif of the Great Seal of the United States
fit that need.
The eagles of this era that have survived (200 years) are generally in excellent
condition and probably escaped being melted down in Europe because they were keepsakes
or part of someone's savings. A few proof-like circulation strikes have been identified,
but no proofs are known for the three-year type.
Census and population reports show a few hundred Capped Bust Eagle, Small Eagle
coins (most are 1795 issues) and a few thousand Capped Bust Eagle, Heraldic Eagle
certifications. All pieces (large and small eagle) are expensive, even at low grades;
anything finer than VF is extremely expensive, with prices approaching a half million
dollars for the large eagle, and one million for the small eagle if in Gem and finer condition.