Extraordinary 1796 JR-3 Dime, MS631796 10C MS63 NGC. JR-3, R.5. Mostly brilliant silver surfaces show light rose accents on each side. Bright mint luster shows the often-seen semiprooflike or reflective finish. The date, LIBERTY, hair strands, and stars at the left are all bold, with the right-side stars above average. The reverse has definitive wreath details with remarkably sharp breast feathers.
Die State. Slight evidence of obverse die lapping appears in the form of weakened upper hair details. The reverse has some fragmented leaves, missing feathers in the left (facing) wing, and part of the rock missing, all from die lapping. The reverse is cracked from the border through the left top of the first T in STATES, continuing down through the wreath and well into the left wing. A branch follows the top of the T to the rim over A where it forms a triangular lump that connects three dentils.
Condition Census. Only three or four Mint State coins are known, including the present piece that is almost certainly the finest known survivor from these dies. This identical coin was recorded in the dime book as the finest seen at that time. The Lovejoy Collection held an XF coin, and the JR-3 was missing from the Bolen and Eliasberg collections. A Mint State coin appeared in the Pittman Collection, and another in the Whitney Collection, both apparently inferior to this piece.
Appearances. Plated in Auction '81, the Koshkarian catalog, and our 2005 ANA catalog.
Obverse Die. Star 1 is distant from the lowest curl, diagnostic. In the date, the 1 is close to the curl and the 6 is closer to the drapery. Stars 1 and 8 are distant from the curl and L; stars 9 and 15 are closer to the Y and drapery. Stars 3, 4, and 5 are closer than other stars on the left. Star 15 is nearly centered between star 14 and the bust. LIBERTY has ER extremely close and the tops of TY joined.
State a. Perfect obverse. State b. Traces of lapping at the top hair curls. A faint crack joins the border to star 1.
Reverse Die. A leaf is merged with the base of U, diagnostic. Usually with a small planchet cut at the lower left reverse. The wreath has 19 leaves and four berries in the left branch, and 13 leaves in the right branch. A leaf is extremely close to the base of D, and it probably appears to join that letter on lower grade pieces. Leaves join the right corners of E and I in AMERICA, and the left base of the final A. Outside berries are positioned below the upper right serif of T in UNITED, and about one-fourth the distance between D and S. A trace of recutting appears at the right top of the U.
State a. Perfect reverse. State b. A crack from the border to the left top of the first T in STATES continues faintly to the left branch and wing. State c. The crack is bold through the wreath and wing, with a branch through the top of the T and the border over A. State d. A rim break forms over the first T in STATES.
Heritage Commentary. This is the first of four die-linked varieties, including JR-4, JR-5, and JR-7. It is the third rarest of the seven 1796 dime varieties, behind the unique JR-7 and the rare JR-5.
Consignor Commentary. An interesting feature is that a planchet cut at 7 to 8 o'clock is present on many specimens--apparently due to a metal chip adhering to the die (per dime book). I have observed many JR-3's. I have noted the planchet cut to be present on all coins with reverse States a and b and on some coins with reverse State c. The cut is absent on any of the reverse State d coins I have observed. I believe that the cut first appears near T1 and gradually moves toward U. The present coin is reverse State c without the cut.
Provenance. Ex: Auction '81 (RARCOA, 7/1981), lot 83; Ed Milas (privately, 5/1987); Haig Koshkarian (American Numismatic Rarities, 3/2004), lot 46; Melrose Bay Collection; Heritage (7/2005), lot 10154; Stuart Levine (7/28/2005).
From The Ed Price Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 236B, PCGS# 4461)
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