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19 Jul 2022

The Complete US Coinage Era Encyclopedia, Part 2: The Bust Craze

Young Numismatists Exchange | $tarCollector

The Complete US Coinage Era Encyclopedia, Part 2: the Bust Craze

Welcome, fellow YNs and ANA members, to Part 2 of my US Coinage Era Encyclopedia, where I will give you most of the facts about some of the greatest eras of US Coinage. This issue will discuss the second LARGE era of US Coinage.

The Bust Craze
The 'Bust Craze' lasted for about 41 years for many denominations, and had different styles of Busts of Liberty depicted on coinage.

The Half Cent featured a Draped Bust probably designed by Gilbert Stuart, from 1800-1808. The Half Cent then used the 'Classic Head' Bust style designed by John Reich from 1809 to 1837, and then used a Braided Hair design that will be talked about next issue. The Large Cent featured a Draped Bust designed by Robert Scot, from 1796-1807, and then during a short period from 1808 to 1814 used John Reich's 'Classic Head' Bust, the same design that was used by the Half Cent. It then used the Matron Head design, which will be talked over next issue.

The Half Dime, or Five-Cent Piece of the era, had three different designs during the 'Bust Craze', which lasted 41 years for it (with a break in-between), from 1796 to 1837. The first design, most likely by Gilbert Stuart, depicted a Bust that would be used until 1805 on the obverse, and a small eagle inside a wreath on the reverse. This lasted for two years, from 1796-1797, and then there was a short, three year period with no Half Dimes minted until 1800, when the 'Heraldic Eagle' design was used on the reverse until 1805. This design featured an eagle facing to the left, with wings outstretched, a banner declaring E PLURIBUS UNUM on its neck, arrows in the left talon and an olive branch in the right talon. Finally, a someone placed a shield on its chest. Then, the Capped Bust design by John Reich was inherited for the coin, from the years 1829-1837. It featured a bust of Liberty, wearing a cap, facing left, on the obverse, and a bird facing left with a shield on its chest on the obverse.

The Dimes from the time period between 1795 and 1838 featured busts, and thus, are part of the Bust Craze. The first Bust design was the Draped Bust with a design that is identical to that of the Half Dime, Quarter Dollar, Half Dollar, and even Dollar. As I have previously described all three designs I will not go in to detail. The Draped Bust was used from 1796-1807, while the Heraldic Eagle Draped Bust was used from 1800-1805, and the Capped Bust was used from 1809-1837. This marked the end of the Bust Craze for this denomination, and prepared them for the 'Seated Era'.

Quarter Dollars were first featured with the Draped Bust design in the year 1796. They then, after an eight-year gap, featured the Heraldic Eagle reverse from 1804-1807. After another gap, the Capped Bust ruled the Quarter's obverse, while the eagle commonly seen conspiring with Capped Ms. Liberty was displayed on the reverse. Then, Liberty was very tired of that pose (as you can imagine), so she suggested she sit down for the next era of design, the Seated Era.

Half Dollars with busts of Liberty on the obverse lasted for approximately 43 years until a new design was brought in. The Draped Bust with scrawny little eagle was used in the years 1796 and 1797, until they finally fed that eagle well enough so that it did a dramatic pose, now we just call it the Heraldic Eagle though. The Heraldic Eagle Draped Bust Half Dollar design (it's quite the mouthful to say!) lasted for but seven years, until Liberty went to a baseball game, and, while there, got herself a nice cap. She wore that for an astonishing thirty-two years, from 1807 to 1839. During this time, there were many varieties that were created, but I will only mention the notable change from the inscription 50 C. on the reverse to 50 CENTS, then finally HALF DOL. After this, the Seated Era took place.

Dollars with a bust on them lasted a short period from 1795-1804. The first Draped Busts with the underfed eagle were featured on the Dollar coin from 1795-1797, and then the Heraldic Eagle inherited the reverse. The varieties during the Heraldic Eagle period are many, but one particular Dollar from the Heraldic Eagle series I will give an in-depth report about. This is the 1804 Dollar, a legend of numismatics, a rarity with a mystery. The 1804 Dollar was not actually struck in 1804, but rather struck at (estimated to be) three different times. The Class I 1804 Dollars were made by President Jackson's request to be included in sets (for diplomatic relations) as "...specimens of each [coin] in use." The Numismatist, April 2022, features an article that has a few paragraphs with information about this Dollar. Duke Bernhard of the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach visited North America in the years 1825 and 1826. He created a journal of his journey and it was later published into a book, but soon forgotten. His visit to the Philadelphia Mint was also entered in the journal, and the numismatic content of the journal includes information about the 1804 Dollar. He stated in his journal (after being told this by a mint official); "Since 1803, no larger silver coins are made than half dollars...", thus, as the article later states; "If anyone at the coining facility...had read Bernhard's book, 1804 dollars would not exist," as the mint records show that 19,570 Dollars were struck in 1804, but Bernhard's report correctly states that they are not 1804 dollars, so 1803 Dollars would have been used for the set. There are eight known 1804 Class I Dollars. [Seven] Class II 1804 Dollars were struck sometime around 1860, as specimens for collectors. The rarest Dollar, with only one being known, is one of the seven Class IIs struck, but with a plain edge. The Seated Era finally started for this series after a long break in Dollar coin production.

I will feature information about the Seated Liberty coins next US Coin Era Encyclopedia, but in the meantime, expect to see Hunt Update #7 within the next ten days.



Draped Bust Dollar - PCGS CoinFacts (pcgs.com)

Draped Bust Quarter - PCGS CoinFacts (pcgs.com)




Yeoman, R.S. A Guide Book of United States Coins 75th Edition(2022)

Orosz, Joel J. "Greetings! Duke Bernhard's 1826 Visit to the First U. S. Mint." The Numismatist (April 2022)

Thanks for reading,




Level 4

Very informative, and well written. Thanks!


Level 6

Lots of information going on! Thanks for your research! ; )


Level 4

Looking forward to seeing your future blog,very educational.


Level 3


These are some of my favorite coins.


Level 7

Allot of information. Thanks for the facts. I appreciate it!!


Level 6

Quite a bit of facts here. Thanks.


Level 4



Level 5

My personal favorite era was the Renaissance Of US Coinage!


Level 4

I'll definitely be covering that. Thanks for the comment!

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