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Important Near-Gem 1797 16 Stars Half Dime, V-4, LM-2

1797 H10C 16 Stars MS64 NGC. CAC. V-4, LM-2, R.4. Of the four 1797 half dime die marriages, two display 16 stars on the obverse: LM-3 and LM-2, the current coin, distinguishable by the leaf tip that pierces the bottom of C in AMERICA and a berry between N and I in UNITED. The other two varieties have 13 stars and 15 stars. Breen (1988) conjectures that the 15 star coins were struck first from unfinished dies started in 1796, then the 16 star half dimes were issued in anticipation of Tennessee being admitted to the Union as the 16th state. He goes on to explain that Mint Director Boudinot decided to start making obverse dies of all denominations with 13 stars since it would be impractical to keep adding stars for each new state. Breen's logic is confirmed through an examination of 1797 half dime die states; the LM-2 16 Stars variety uses a later die state of the LM-1 15 Stars reverse die.
The current coin represents the finest graded 1797 half dime, regardless of variety, that we have offered in nearly 10 years. The NGC Census Report indicates that only one 1797 LM-2 half dime has been certified at the MS64 level with one finer (1/08), although the same report includes another line for this issue that represents unattributed submissions, with an additional 11 examples graded Choice Uncirculated. We must assume that part of that total includes other 1797 LM-2 half dimes. The near-Gem offered here displays an attractive russet patina with steel-blue and silver undertones. The centers are weakly struck as usual for this variety, yet the distraction-free and lustrous surfaces justify the assigned grade.
From The Southwest Collection.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 22ZZ, PCGS# 4259)

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Auction Dates
February, 2008
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