The Finest Known 1796 JR-4 Dime, MS67 ★★★1796 10C MS67 NGC. JR-4, R.3. An amazing example of the JR-4 die combination in nearly perfect preservation. Only a hint of central weakness is evident on an otherwise bold strike. The centering is close to perfect, with full borders on both sides, only slightly narrower at the lower obverse and lower reverse. Strong magnification is required to see any of the tiny blemishes that prevent an even higher numerical grade. Both sides have fully reflective, prooflike fields around frosty devices, imparting a splendid cameo appearance. The central obverse and reverse are light ivory and gray, with peripheral rainbow toning. At one time in the past, quality similar to this coin would have been described as "proof" or "specimen." Today, we call the coin prooflike Mint State, yet give a nod to its special appearance.
Die State. The obverse has a faint crack from the rim to star 1, continuing through that star and faintly to the lowest hair curl. Another crack faintly connects stars 1, 2, and 3. The reverse has no evidence of clash marks or die lapping. A faint crack extends from the top right leaf below O toward the final S.
Condition Census. Easily the finest known JR-4, although a few other Gem specimens are close to this example in quality.
Appearances. Plated in Goldberg's September 2003 sale and in Stack's sale of the James A. Stack Collection.
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. Leaf tip below right base of A in STATES, diagnostic. The left branch has 17 leaves and four berries, and the right branch has 13 leaves. The two outer berries are on stems that appear to grow out of leaves. They are positioned below the upright of E and three-fourths of the distance from D to S. All leaves in the left branch are separated from the letters. In the right branch, a leaf joins the base of E just right of center, and another joins the right base of the I. AME are extremely close with M slightly high. All other letters are well-spaced.
State a. Perfect. State b. A faint die crack extends from the tip of the upper right leaf, toward the final S. State c. Heavy clash marks. State d. Cracked from the tail feathers to the third feather of the right wing.
Heritage Commentary. The faint die crack that connects stars 1, 2, and 3 is visible on this piece, although not on JR-3. Therefore, JR-4 clearly followed JR-3 in the emission sequence of 1796 dimes.
When describing this piece in 2003, the Goldberg cataloger noted: "In June 2003, Michael S. Fey reported the discovery of examples of 1796 JR-3 and JR-4 with widely repunched 6's in the date. Because of its high grade, this example shows this feature clearly. Actually, the entire date was repunched (as were most of the stars on the left), but the 6 was punched into the die three times: first, too low, then higher, then again slightly to the left!"
The repunched 6 is clearly visible on this example, as it is on the JR-3 in the Price Collection. However, the entire date and the stars on the left are all doubled as a result of double striking instead of repunching. We know this is true since the obverse dies of JR-3 and JR-4 are the same, and the JR-3 lacks any similar doubling. The evidence of a double impression should not be considered as evidence of a special strike. Rather, it is along the same lines as later double profiles or modern-day machine doubling.
Consignor Commentary. This coin is spectacular. Although several high grade coins exist, this is the finest I have seen. Bolen's was described as Choice to Gem. I saw it and would grade it MS64 or possibly MS65. Eliasberg's was described as MS62/64. I also saw that coin and today would grade it MS64 or MS65. Lovejoy had a nice Uncirculated coin, but nothing special. The Garrett coin was called MS65, and is about equal to the Eliasberg specimen. James Stack had two examples, this coin and one that John Whitney purchased. In the James A. Stack sale, the Whitney coin sold for $28,600 while the present coin sold for $52,250. The marketplace agreed with my own belief that this piece is clearly the finest known 1796 JR-4 dime.
Provenance. James A. Stack (Stack's, 1/1990), lot 2; Goldberg Coins (9/2003), lot 241.
From The Ed Price Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 236B, PCGS# 4461)
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