Turban Head eagle
The Turban Head eagle, also known as the Capped Bust eagle, was a ten-dollar gold piece, or eagle, struck by the United States Mint from 1795 to 1804. The piece was designed by Robert Scot, and was the first in the eagle series, which continued until the Mint ceased striking gold coins in 1933. The common name is a misnomer; Liberty does not wear a turban but a cap, believed by some to be a pileus or Phrygian cap.
About Turban Head eagle in brief
The Turban Head eagle, also known as the Capped Bust eagle, was a ten-dollar gold piece, or eagle, struck by the United States Mint from 1795 to 1804. The piece was designed by Robert Scot, and was the first in the eagle series, which continued until the Mint ceased striking gold coins for circulation in 1933. The common name is a misnomer; Liberty does not wear a turban but a cap, believed by some to be a pileus or Phrygian cap. The eagle was the largest denomination authorized by the Mint Act of 1792, which established the Bureau of the Mint. It was not struck until 1795, as the Mint at first struck copper and silver coins. The number of stars on the obverse was initially intended to be equal to the number of states in the Union, but with the number at 16, that idea was abandoned in favor of using 13 stars in honor of the original states. Increases in the price of gold made it profitable for the coins to be melted for their precious metal content, and in 1804, President Thomas Jefferson ended coinage of eagles. Four 1804-dated eagles were struck in 1834 for inclusion in sets of US coins to being given to foreign potentates, and are among the most valuable US coins of the period. The origin of Scot’s obverse is uncertain. Art historian Cornelius Vermeule suggests a similarity between Scot’s portrayal of Liberty on the eagle and the portrait on the 1792 half disme, and speculates that the ultimate inspiration may have been Martha Washington, the President’s wife.
He also contends that a bust should have been intended as part of a statue: Roman classicism has probably been misunderstood here. Walter Breen believes that Scot may have added some unlocated drapery, altering the hair, adding an oversize soft-size bust. In 1825, then Mint Director Samuel Moore stated that the cap on the gold coins was probably conforming the fashionable dress of the day, but probably not the headgear of Liberty. In support of his argument, he reproduces an 1825 letter from the then Mint director, Samuel Moore, stating that the headwear is a hat given to emancipated slaves as a symbol of their freedom. In 1794, Congress lowered the chief coiner’s bond to USD 5,000 and the assayer’s to USD 1,000, and President Washington’s appointees to those positions were able to qualify and take office. The first deposit of gold to be struck into coins was made at the Mint in February 1795. The Mint did not yet put denominations on gold pieces. The coins are identical to designs used on other silver and gold coins of a period—the Mint didnot yet put denomination on gold coins. They are among a set of coins that were struck by Moses Brown of Boston in 1794. The three designs for the Turban head eagle—the obverse and the two reverses—are all by Scot.