This is a stunning creation from the Gallery Mint Museum. It shows a replica of the 1796 Small Eagle dollar with a spectacular shattered obverse die, including a major die break or 'cud' and a large reverse die crack. On top of that, it also has dazzling toning! This piece was struck on October 1, 1997.
This obverse die started out striking proofs but soon developed a die crack. As more pieces were struck, the crack kept getting larger until it was decided the die was no longer suitable to strike proofs. Rather than discard the die, the Guys at the Gallery Mint decided to refinish the surface and use it to strike uncirculated pieces. The crack continued to expand and eventually the die shattered. Little by little, pieces started falling off the die until a giant die break ran almost all the way around. Approximately 30 pieces were minted as the die crumbled apart, until there wasn't enough die left to strike another. This specimen shows a fairly early stage of this die break.