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1797 50C MS63 PCGS. O-101a, R.5. Amato-402....

2014 June 23 The Eugene H. Gardner Collection of US Coins Signature Auction - New York #1213

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Auction Ended On: Jun 23, 2014
Item Activity: 13 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Ukrainian Institute of America at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion
2 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10075


1797 Half Dollar, O-101a, Original MS63
From the James Swan U.S. Type Collection
Elusive in All Grades
1797 50C MS63 PCGS. O-101a, R.5. Amato-402. This Select early half dollar is a remarkable example of one of the most elusive U.S. type coins. Both sides display original bluish-gray surfaces imbued with splashes of light brown. Most design elements are sharply defined. Only the stars along the right border exhibit weak centers, a typical characteristic of the issue. The dentilation is bold on both sides, and the devices are well-centered on the planchet. As-made adjustment marks (a common feature of early U.S. silver and gold coinage) detract nothing from the coin's very pleasing eye appeal. A couple of contact marks on either side of the eagle's neck and a milling mark between the lower part of the eagle's right (facing) wing and tail will, along with the adjustment marks, pedigree this coin for future catalogers and researchers.

Variety: O-101a, R.5. The 1797 half dollar consists of two varieties, O-101 and O-102, differentiated by the alignment of the reverse wreath in relation to the peripheral lettering. The present example is the late die state of O-101, designated O-101a. This die state exhibits extensive reverse cracks, along with a heavy obverse crack from the rim through star 2 to the second lowest curl. As the 1797 O-101a is the only major die state of the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series, it is an important selection for the variety collector.

Population Data (5/14): PCGS has certified five Mint State examples of this issue, and NGC has graded four Mint State pieces. This specimen is the only certified MS63.

Heritage Commentary: The two-year Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar design type, bearing the date 1796 or 1797, is one of the three keys to completing a collection of early U.S. type coins (the others are the 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles). The scant mintage of 3,918 pieces and survival of about 300 examples affirm the key status of the 1796-1797 half. Both dates are necessary to complete a date collection of early half dollars, and no type collection can be considered complete without the presence of a Draped Bust, Small Eagle half. It is a major challenge to locate an original specimen in any grade, let alone a coin in Mint State making the present MS63 offering a special coin indeed.

Provenance: Kagin's (9/1972), lot 78; Kagin's (1/1975), lot 134; Hagle Collection (Bowers and Merena, 3/1989), lot 288; Superior Galleries (10/1990), lot 3654; George N. Polis Collection (Bowers and Merena, 6/1991), lot 1366; Bowers and Merena (8/1998), lot 182; Superior Galleries (2/1999), lot 859; RARCOA Fixed Price List (12/2000); James Swan U.S. Type Collection; Oliver Jung Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 7/2004), lot 60.(Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 24EC, PCGS# 6060)

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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato

The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato is the culmination of more than 10 years of research into the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series, one of the most coveted type coins in American numismatics and one about which remarkably little has been written.

This work will be the premier reference for 1796-1797 half dollars for years to come. Institutions having an extensive numismatic library or coin cabinet will find it a valuable complement to their holdings, and catalogers charged with writing up specimens for auction can now have an indispensable source of background and pedigree information. Likewise, coin dealers seeking to purchase one or more '96 or '97 half dollars for a client or for inventory, and collectors who own, have owned, or desire to own one will want this important reference work for their libraries.

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