1796 Capped Bust Right Eagle. Small Eagle. BD-1, Taraszka-6, the only known dies. Rarity-4. MS-61 (PCGS). Vivid golden yellow patina is seen on both sides of this beautiful early eagle. The finish is modestly prooflike with the fields retaining plenty of reflectivity, particularly on the reverse. Light, wispy handling marks are noted here and there, none of which are worthy of individual mention and most are easily missed. The strike is impressive by the standards of the early United States Mint, the impression nicely centered on both sides within boldly and uniformly denticulated borders. The stars, branch and wreath are sharp, and Libertys portrait and the eagles plumage are full apart from trivial softness to the high points of Libertys cap and bust, as well as the eagles head, breast and legs.The Small Eagle reverse was used on the $10 gold piece for only three years and was not produced in any large quantity. The 1796 eagle is no exception; the reported mintage according to Mint records is that 4,146 pieces were delivered that calendar year, though this almost certainly includes a number of 1795-dated eagles, as well. Precisely how many were actually dated 1796 remains to be discovered, John W. Dannreuther in his 2006 study, <em>Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties: A Study of Die States, 1795-1834</em>, has estimated the mintage of the 1796-dated issue at 3,500 to 4,146 pieces, all struck form a single die pair. One distinguishing feature are the sixteen stars on the obverse signifying the admission of Tennessee into the Union on June 1, 1796, indicating that these few coins were all struck after that date. The 1796 eagle is also the first of only two issues with only 11 leaves on the reverse branch in the eagles claw; the earlier 1795-dated varieties all display either nine or 13 leaves on the branch. Just 125 to 175 examples are believed extant in all grades, of which less than a dozen certification events have been recorded in the Mint State levels. A delight to behold and a classic early gold rarity.