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1795 Half, O-130, MS61
Lower Condition Census Example

1795 50C 2 Leaves MS61 NGC. O-130, R.5. The O-130 is easily distinguished by the 7-10 berry arrangement on the reverse, the only such for the year. The O and C are recut, and a small die crack runs through S OF AMER. On the obverse the point of star 1 pierces through the lowest curl, which forms an "open hook with a blunt end" (Overton, fourth edition). The point of star 2 is near the next-to-lowest curl, and the point of the bust is centered between two points of star 15 and close to it.
The recorded mintage of 299,680 half dollars was accomplished using 19 obverse and 22 reverse dies, mated in a total of 32 separate die pairings (or possibly 31; the existence of O-118 is unconfirmed). The O-130 is of middling rarity in the grand scheme of 1795 half dollars, as most die pairings are R.4 or higher, with only a couple of R.3s to prevent collectors from despairing of obtaining a nice piece of any variety. As a condition rarity, this piece is, of course, High R.7 or "extremely rare" when one presents both the variety rarity and grade in one expression.
The Condition Census as presented in the third edition of Overton was woefully inadequate, listed as (40, 30, 25, 25, 20). The fourth edition (2005) could have seen a lot more updating, listing coins in (50, 40, 30, 25, 25) for the Census--despite our offering of an MS63 NGC coin in June 2001 (Long Beach Signature Auction #263, lot 8344); the Akers-Stack's offerings (1998-2002) of the Pittman-Hain (same) coin, graded MS62 raw and now in an AU58 PCGS slab; the 1999 Stack's Dombrowski-Orwen MS60 piece, ex: Bareford. The current Condition Census thus appears to be (63, 62, 62, 61, 60), with this piece occupying fourth place in the Census.
This is a deeply toned example that shows varying shades of rose, lilac, and gray patina on each side. Satiny mint luster is seen under the multiple layers of toning. The obverse is sharply defined, while the reverse is softly detailed on the eagle's breast. The strike shows some localized weakness also, with uneven definition at the bottom of the obverse and top of the reverse, which we interpret as a misaligned pair of dies. Magnification reveals several small abrasions but none are immediately apparent to the unaided eye, thus we will not mention any individually.(Registry values: N7079) (PCGS# 6052)

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Apr-May, 2009
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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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